Sometimes, it’s difficult to see opportunities early enough to take advantage of them. Remember the first time you saw an independently operated video store? If you’d invested a thousand bucks 20 years ago, you could be drinking piña coladas on a Mediterranean beach now. Bet you wish you’d had a couple grand when they still called Bill Gates “Billy.”
Usually, it’s fear that prevents people from making the leap that could solve many of their problems and alleviate their fears for the future. Occasionally, it’s bad choices that were made in the past that condemn people to a future of mediocrity.
Reno, particularly the downtown area, is at a historic turning point right now. The trench is nearly complete; soon, guests who come to Reno won’t have their sleep disturbed by train whistles. Soon, guests who come to Reno will be able to drive from Point A to Point B. There is going to be a large number of new downtown residents. There is a certain amount of retail business making its way back downtown. Culture is flourishing. The Spaghetti Bowl may someday be complete. The university’s president recently announced he is leaving town. This round of casino closures may be finishing its course, and there are only one or two at the moment that seem at risk of shutting down. The homeless shelter is about to open its doors, giving downtown the opportunity to present a new image to residents and visitors. The president of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority has moved on.
There are many, many random factors aligning that could allow Reno-Sparks to become a jewel in the West.
Now is the time for dreaming, when the future is unwritten.
Dream. Dream, all you elected officials who are lucky enough to be reaping the praises for decisions that were made years ago. Dream on, you elected officials who were foresightful enough to be a part of the burgeoning reality. Dream, you locals who drove down washboard streets while you watched your tax dollars go to benefit the casinos. Dream on, you locals who watched as your beloved natural setting developed a concrete skin and housing acne.
If officials shy away now and rest on their laurels long enough for a new inertia to form, it will be too late. “Good enough” will once again have undermined “great.”
Come on, folks, make the big decisions. Close down Virginia Street to through traffic downtown. Make those blocks as culturally relevant as Trafalgar Square in London. Don’t hire a second-rate president to lead the university through the choppy waters of the early 21st century. Support the independent businesses that have found a home downtown. Support the folks who’ve been praying for a renaissance on Fourth Street for a quarter century. Hire hire someone at the RSCVA who has great ideas and can build consensus.
And when the time for dreaming is over, act. Don’t act with timidity. Act with boldness that will ensure the quality of life of Reno’s citizens for the next 25 years. Decide whether the big decisions and sacrifices that were made in the past, such as the decision to rip money from taxpayers’ hands to construct a train trench, will only benefit the privileged few or will benefit all of those who call the Truckee Meadows home.