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Officials gambled on city’s future

In response to Mayor (Rod) Woodbury’s editorial in the Boulder City Review dated Aug. 4, 2016.

Thank you Mayor Woodbury for your recognition of our benumbed business climate. My wife and I have not enjoyed the languorous deterioration of the downtown “district.”

More importantly, I can now refute those who say we do not gamble here in Boulder City. We gambled when we overbonded and underfunded an unnecessary golf course instead of building a new aquatics center, replaced a gym built in 1932, and failed to create pedestrian and bicycle byways. You want kids? Offer them and their parents something other than gambling and golf at $22 million.

We came up snake eyes after alienating a city benefactor who moved to Arizona. Then there’s the energy farms with no cost of living lease increases. Recently, we crapped out with city money creating a new downtown eyesore at the old gas station. City salaries seem high.

Now you want us to push all our chips in for zero-lot-line stucco bombs 10 to the acre. Like a master magician, you distract us with the hope these new residents will somehow save a dysfunctional city government by magically infusing all sorts of money and culture into our coffers and cover up years of neglect and ineptitude.

Sorry, me and mine aren’t making bets against those lopsided odds.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Like a good house, we need a good foundation. Growth for it’s own sake will not solve our problem, no matter how much special-interest money is palmed. So why build the walls if the foundation is no good. We can discuss development in a few years, after we solve more pressing needs.

When I ask citizens and business owners alike what are our plans for the Interstate 11 bypass, I am greeted with blank stares. I hear nothing of plans from the city, the Chamber of Anti-Commerce, or anyone else in leadership positions until now. Build lots of new homes, willy nilly, because it sounds like a great idea.

So how does that fit in with our five-, 10- and 20-year downtown plans, and our master plan for the next 30 years? How does that overcome the cronyism and self-protectionism that hinders Boulder City from transforming itself from a dam town with untapped riches to a vaunted tourist locale we can be proud of?

Build a better Boulder City

I suggest, instead of gambling, we embrace growth, but planned, methodical, consensus-generated visions for the future of what we want to become, not just throw mud against the wall to see if it sticks. Let’s try planning things for a change of pace.

1. Trust. Let’s begin by shelving, for now, massive growth. Our current charter leaves plenty on the bone for reasonable builders. The city’s batting average is dismal on “new” ideas.

2. Plan, vet, plan, vet. Get the plan right first.

3. Downtown is a mess. It’s getting worse and it has nothing to do with more people, but rather a very bad product. A pawnshop across from the historic hotel? We have a title company and almost vacant movie theater bringing in no foot traffic where other cities have converted these areas into vibrant pedestrian business districts.

4. Grandfather in street parking for five years and encourage home remodeling. I cannot think of a single city that outperforms other markets, has a vibrant downtown, yet looks like a junkyard. The city can build recreational vehicle storage near I-11.

5. Overcome the fiefdoms. Make change the byword. We are a veritable gold mine of outdoor activity. The (Hoover) Dam and Lake Mead are world known, yet we offer little or no tie-ins. We have a world-class mountain biking area in Bootleg Canyon, and a similar road bike trail of 36 miles, with no cars, and an airport and facilities that are fantastic.

The International Mountain Biking Association comes here every September and we treat them like strangers. Promote off-road tours. Zip lines are nice, but they need to be packaged so we can capture tourists overnight. Las Vegas feeds off of us like a leech.

We have fishing, hiking, running, biking, boating, panoramas, clean air, crime free, have no traffic and friendly folks. We don’t need to abandon the existing businesses, but restructure them and move them by rezoning and using tax incentives.

6. Burgers are fine. But upscale visitors and tourist families with kids walk like dehydrated zombies while dodging chairs on Nevada Way in search of affordable and amenable dining. All that business floats away to Henderson, Las Vegas and beyond. Most of us take visitors out of town for dining. We don’t want to. No wonder everything is boarded up.

So, there’s just a few of my thoughts, right or wrong, but they are all creative solutions, and none require a novation of our current building limits.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch

We need to go back to basics, restate who we are and where we want to go, and stop gambling for the big payout. If we fail to plan, the special interest groups will most surely determine another path than we would otherwise like to travel here in beautiful Boulder City.

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