City Invites Public To 'Reimagine Reno'

Sep 24, 2015

A volunteer writes down ideas from a focus group on issues facing Latinos living in Reno. These sessions are part of Reimagine Reno, a public engagement process the city is undertaking to update its Master Plan and vision for the future.
Credit Julia Ritchey

  Members of the Latino community in Reno gathered earlier this week to tell the city what they do and don't like about their hometown. The effort is part of a much larger citywide initiative called Reimagine Reno. Our reporter Julia Ritchey was there and has more.

About two dozen people are sitting at tables in the Neil Road Community Center, hashing out their ideas for Reno's future. From job training to public safety to affordable housing, no topic is off limits. 

Jackeline Duron, a junior at the University of Nevada, Reno, tells her group she's worried about gentrification.

"We see a lot of MidTown and a lot of promotion in that, but because of this new coalition that MidTown is, it pushed a lot of people who lived in that area away," she says. "They're trying to do that in terms of revitalizing the Wells area, and that's a highly Latino and people of color area."

Another concern comes from across the table, where Juseth Giron, a former public school teacher, says the city should help relaunch Nevada Hispanic Services. The local nonprofit provided free legal help to Latinos until financial troubles forced it to close in 2012, leaving a vacuum for their community.

"So where are they going for immigration services, for asking in regards to translating, for asking for just anything, where are they going?” said Giron.

A city staffer goes over some of the ideas contributed by different groups on how to make Reno a better place to live, work and play, particularly for the Latino community.
Credit Julia Ritchey

  After an hour of brainstorming, city staff collect the giant sheets of paper scribbled with their ideas. These sessions are part of the city's effort to update its 20-year-old master plan and create a blueprint for development priorities.

Councilman Oscar Delgado says they want to reach out to a diverse cross-section of residents.

"It's important for us to hear from our community; to hear what they want their neighborhoods to look like and what they want the rest of Reno to look like in the next five to ten years."

The goal here is to get input that will help policymakers shape the city’s future.

To learn more about how they plan to do that, I went to City Hall to talk with Maureen McKissick and Brianna Wolf who run Reimagine Reno.

"Reimagine Reno is the public facing component of the city's effort to update the Master Plan," says Wolf. "And when you do a comprehensive update, it's really critical to deeply engage the public."

So far, Wolf says, they've polled 3,000 people through their online survey and another 800 people in focus group sessions. Their overall goal is to hear from 4,000 residents, which they should meet by the end of October. 

The city has allocated $150,000 to conduct this public engagement campaign and is using an outside consultant from Denver, Co., as well. 

"You should go because we only do this once every 20 years, and this is the time," says McKissick. "Not only is it a unique opportunity ... but it actually is a really pivotal point in Reno's history."

To take the online survey or see upcoming focus group sessions, go to ReimagineReno.US.

WEB EXTRA: To hear more voices from the Reimainge Reno Latino gathering, click here