What are they thinking?

Gary Schmidt is a longtime local business owner and a member of Washoe County’s Board of Equalization.

The building of the proposed Triple-A ballpark in Sparks’ suburbs will compete with downtown businesses and redevelopment—rather than complement and support them—in both Reno and Sparks. The development of this ballpark anywhere except on the artery between Reno and Sparks will mark the death blow to successful redevelopment of downtown Reno, downtown Sparks and the old Highway 40 corridor.

However, if the ballpark is placed in Sparks near the junction of Prater Way and East Fourth Street, it has the potential to revitalize all three areas.

Having grown up in the ‘50s and ‘60s in Santa Clara County, it has been painful watching the Truckee Meadows denigrate because of the growth process—I’ve seen it all before.

I have been particularly dismayed by the mishandling of the redevelopment of the cities’ downtown areas and the conflicts between the three governing bodies of Washoe County, Reno and Sparks.

Reno and Sparks have become one metropolitan area clearly defined by the encircling mountain ranges. In order to maintain the highest quality of life in this community, there are some things that must be done. Water, sewer and residential density issues must be addressed. Our natural and social history must be maintained by keeping sufficient parks and open spaces on the valley floor. We should make every effort to preserve historically significant buildings.

In addition, it is of paramount importance to avoid the curse of almost all California’s uncontrolled and misdirected growth patterns by avoiding suburban sprawl. The key to this is avoiding multiple large-scale commercial and recreation districts on the valley floor outside of the core downtown area.

The downtowns of both Reno and Sparks are well on the way to merging as one due to their close proximity and Interstate 80 passing through them. Currently, East Fourth Street in Reno and Prater Way in Sparks are in their entirety zoned for commercial and/or mixed use. This is where the ballpark should be.

The Truckee Meadows can’t and mustn’t support multiple major commercial or entertainment complex developments outside of the combined downtown core area. If the ballpark is built on the Marina, it will draw businesses and restaurants away from the existing downtown areas, changing traffic patterns and putting tourists (including locals) on the road who would otherwise enjoy local amenities both before and after games. It will essentially create a new “downtown” at the Marina, further undermining both cities’ existing downtowns.

This community is at a crossroads. The proposed Triple-A ballpark can’t and mustn’t be built in a suburban location as is now proposed. It should and must be located in the combined downtown core area between downtown Reno and Sparks.