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In search of clarity for Curry Street Promenade, Part 1

If you have taken part in the events going on in downtown Carson City this summer — such as the Friday night concerts on 3rd Street or the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings — then you have witnessed the Curry Street Promenade in action.

Though most would agree that the events are a great benefit for our downtown, the process by which this project came about is a strange one, tainted with managerial missteps, missing budgets and political indifference.

The Curry Street Promenade is a small fraction of the city’s overall expenditures. But it serves as a unique window into how the city has handled its oft-criticized redevelopment initiatives up to this point, and has spurred reforms to try and correct the problems.

The $75,500 of city redevelopment funds that make the Curry Street Promenade possible was approved on April 15 by the Board of Supervisors, after having received a recommendation from the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee on April 5.

At the April 15 meeting, Supervisor Pete Livermore objected to proceeding with the funding, pointing out that the application submitted for the funds did not contain any costs breakdowns or a pro-forma budget to show how the money would be spent. The same point was also made during public comment by Day Williams, one of the candidates vying to replace Livermore on the board.

Williams said he had requested the budget and cost breakdowns from Joe McCarty, head of the Office of Business Development, which is the entity that manages the Curry Street Promenade and submitted the allocations for the funding. McCarthy called Williams’ request “offensive” and did not produce the information.

What very few people knew at the time was the information Williams was seeking didn’t exist.

The other four members of the board were not swayed by the lack of a budget, and voted to approve the funding anyway. After the vote, Mayor Bob Crowell instructed City Manager Larry Werner to collect the missing information. It was a request that sent Werner on a three-month odyssey to create a budget after the fact for a project that had never had one.

A Breakdown in Process

The fact that this collection of events had no budget is something Werner said should not have happened, and will not happen again if he gets his way.

“I can’t excuse it,” Werner said. “This is not the kind of quality work we expect here.”

Those applying for redevelopment funds for special events like the Curry Street Promenade are required to submit information on how that money will be used, including cost breakdowns and pro-forma budgets. For instance, if you look at the application for $10,000 to help fund the Carson City Rendezvous, you will see a marked difference between that and the application for the Curry Street Promenade.

The fact that OBD oversees these requests and requires this budget information from other groups stands in stark contrast to the application the department itself submitted for the Curry Street Promenade, minus that information. To the outside observer, they had one set of rules for themselves, and another for everyone else.

The reason for these requirements is party due to the controversy exposed by an audit of OBD, released in December 2008, that found multiple problems with the department’s processes and faulty record keeping.

The audit found that “there is a very clear deficiency in the ‘checks and balances’ of the Redevelopment process…” and that controls incentive programs and projects “have either been compromised or ignored at times.”

In addition, the audit stated that, “The absence of a competitive bid process puts at risk the independent selection process of whom the City conducts business with. The noted findings impact the degree of integrity in which the Redevelopment process has been managed by the City staff and departments.”

OBD’s response to the audit was to say that because the redevelopment fund is not subject to the city’s standard policies and processes, that they didn’t violate any of those policies and processes. Essentially, they said they didn’t break any rules because they had no rules, a stand that was widely criticized at the time.

But, the department did agree that it needed to establish rules and processes to govern its actions, so the problems cited in the audit would not happen again.

Yet, only a few months after this scathing audit report, OBD submitted requests for $45,000 for the farmer’s market and pop-up park, and $30,000 for the street concerts that encompassed the 2009 version of the Curry Street Promenade, without formal budgets. It was approved. (see details of 2009 event)

The Black Hole

Shortly after the April 15 approval of funding for the 2010 Curry Street Promenade, I approached Werner to inquire about getting the budget numbers for this project. But as the weeks and months went by, it became evident that there was a problem.

Supervisor candidate Williams filed an official request for the information under Nevada Revised Statue 239, and eventually received a document that contained copies of invoices for the previous Curry Street Promenade events, but no budget.

After struggling for more than two months, and with the Curry Street events already taking place, Werner sent me an email on June 29 that stated, “I'm beginning to think that this a black hole...”

Werner explained he had a budget for the farmers’ market portion of the event, managed by Linda Marrone. But he was missing firm numbers from the Brewery Arts Center covering the street concerts and pop-up park.

I asked Werner how OBD, working without a budget, was able to come up with the $75,500 figure to request in the first place. He said they just took what they spent last year and asked for the same amount. Of course, they didn’t have a budget to work from last year, either.

What Werner does have at present is something he wouldn’t classify as a budget. While he is “reasonably certain” that there are no major problems with the numbers he has, Werner said this situation has led him to have a “heart-to-heart” talk with the OBD about changing their procedures. “This is not the way we are going to do it next year,” he said.

Werner admitted that situations like this project, and those highlighted by the audit report, spawn speculation among the public that unethical or illegal activities are taking place. “We have to follow procedure to make it fair for everyone,” he said.

Moving Numbers

One of the problems Werner cited with the numbers he has from BAC is that they are not quite settled. He said the BAC Executive Director John Procaccini signed a contract committing to put on his portion of the events for $43,000. But after submitting a pro-forma budget at Werner’s request in the aftermath of the funding approval, Werner said that Procaccini is now asking for more money to carry out his portion of the events.

The BAC budget sheets are a bit confusing to understand. The sheet covering the street concerts concludes that there will be a $20,250 gross profit to BAC, minus $5,500 in general and administration to end with a $14,750 net profit to BAC, marked as “20% PCT of Gross.”

But Werner pointed out that this budget sheet left out the cost of the pop-up park. Another budget sheet submitted for that portion shows a cost of $13,500, which Werner said was missing a cost estimate for administration. He estimated that this would put the true cost at $14,700. When you add in this figure, it brings the net profit for BAC down to $50.

Werner said if BAC does need more money to show a more reasonable profit, they may have to go back to the Board of Supervisors with an additional request.

I emailed Procaccini last week to confirm this, but have not heard back.

What’s Next?

This first part of the story focused on what happened with the Curry Street Promenade. Part 2, scheduled to publish next week, will ask the question of why this happened, and how to prevent it from happening again.


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On your “Must Not Miss” list, is the popular Downtown Wine Walk – held the First Saturday of every month from 1- 5pm. For just $10 (which supports the Downtown Business Association you’ll receive a commemorative wine glass and endless reasons to sip, stroll, and shop, the afternoon away, through Historic Downtown Carson City. Bring your wine walk glass with the Carson City Logo on it and pay only $8. Don't forget the after Wine Walk raffle prize party, 5:00pm, at the Cabaret Lounge, Carson Nugget Casino!

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UPDATE: Strong thunderstorm being tracked 13 miles northeast of Virginia City.
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National Weather Service meteorologists were tracking two strong thunderstorms this Monday afternoon.

As of 4:21 p.m. the first storm was southeast of Smith Valley moving northwest at 15 mph. The other storm was 18 miles southwest of Yerington and moving northeast at 15 mph.

Lightning is associated with the storms as well as moderate rain and small, pea-sized hail and gusty winds to 50 mph.

It's time again for our monthly adoption event at PetCo, 911 Topsy Lane in south Carson City. We have a great variety of amazing dogs, all hoping to find that special person to love. Our dogs are spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated, and are available for a $100 donation.

If you would like to take your new friend home with you on Saturday, please pre-apply by downloading an application at: www.dogtownrescue.com and emailing it to us at: dogtownmutts@gmail.com

Adopters who have not been pre-approved, will have to wait until the following Saturday to pick up their dog.

Carson City firefighters were called to Elm and Crain streets near the base of C-Hll at around 3 p.m. for a power line that was down. The line was said to be live and sitting in both lanes of traffic. The road was closed in the area and Carson City sheriff's officers are re-directing traffic.

NV Energy has been notified. It is unknown what brought the power line down. Winds are calm, about 8 mph from the northwest.

Two men were arrested Friday on suspicion of felony meth trafficking and sales following a sting operation that involved an informant, according to a Carson City Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team officer.

Daniel Alan Martin, 35, and Steven Vincent, 27, both of Carson City, face multiple felony charges. Approximately 16 grams of methamphetamine was recovered in the operation that involved text messaging leading up to a drug transaction.

I spent last Saturday and Sunday at Wanderlust, an amazing yoga, music, and meditation festival held at Squaw Valley each year. I feel blessed to live in Carson City and able to access festivals like this. People fly in from all over the nation to attend Wanderlust and I get to drive up and bliss out during the day and then sleep in my own comfy bed at night.

Going to this festival each year always adds tools to my toolkit, which I give freely to my clients and to you, my dear readers, today.

Here are the top ten things I learned at Wanderlust Squaw Valley this year.

Tom May and Chris Kennedy are scheduled to perform in Carson City, NV at The Brewery Arts Center performance hall, 511 West King St., Friday, July 25 at 7:30P p.m.

Tom May is a folksinger, songwriter and author who has been touring, performing, and recording for over forty years. He is also the host/producer of the radio show, “River City Folk,” heard on dozens of radio stations weekly since 1985 and on XM Satellite Radio throughout the country.

Youth Theatre Carson City is thrilled to announce our upcoming production of SEUSSICAL, JR., an exciting adventure through the world of Dr. Seuss. The show will run two weekends, July 25 – August 3, 2014 in the Bob Boldrick Theatre at the Carson City Community Center. SEUSSICAL, JR. is great fun for the whole family. Over 70 young local performers portray all the characters from the popular Dr. Seuss books in this fantastical musical extravaganza.

John C. Fremont, the famed explorer who named, mapped and trekked the Great Basin comes to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in a theatrical presentation by Chautauquan Alastair Morley Jaques. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the one-person performance that is part of the monthly Frances Humphrey Lecture series.

National Weather Service storm totals around Carson City and Carson Valley are impressive. After months of being without rain, Mother Nature chose Sunday to spring open the clouds and pour down the buckets after a week’s worth of near record-high temperatures, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, power outages, gusty winds and wildfires.

Carson City Ward 2 Supervisor Brad Bonkowski provides an update on the actions taken by the Board of Supervisors at its July 17, 2014 board meeting These actions include a review of financial policies, getting the ball rolling on the multi-pupose athletic center and new animal shelter, and renaming the Pony Express Pavilion to honor the late mayor Marv Teixeira.

Lightning strikes, heavy rain and flash flooding are being reported this afternoon around Carson City and Douglas County. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for west central Carson City and northwest Douglas County until 5:30 p.m.

Food and restaurant inspections are made weekly by the Carson City Health and Human Services Environmental Health Division.

Nevada's state and local government employees are retiring at a much later age than just a decade ago, a trend that will have ramifications for the financial health of the $33.5 billion public pension plan.

Carson Now reader Scott Gorno took these amazing photos of the lighting strikes around Carson City early Saturday evening. The strikes touched off several small brush fires around the north, east and west sides of town, capping a week of repeated storm systems that moved through Northern Nevada, with one causing Wednesday's Clear Creek Fire.

UPDATE 8:04PM: Firefighters called to a brush fire in the area of Duck Hill. Firefighters were alerted of smoke seen in the Goni Road area.

***
UPDATE 7:35PM: About 70 NV customers in the Indian Hills area remain without power, according to NV Energy. There are three other areas without power: East Corbett, with 5 customers, Hiko Court, 28, and South Curry, 13.

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UPDATE: 6:27PM: A power outage continues in the area off of North Roop and William Street, also affecting John Street, according to NV Energy spokesman Karl Walquist. About 176 customers are without power there. Estimated time for it to be restored is around 8:15 p.m.

Another power outage, affecting 15 customers, is near South Curry Street between Fifth Street and Fairview. Both outages were likely caused by lightning strikes, Walquist said.

***
UPDATE 6:10 PM: The two fires in Kings Canyon have been extinguished thanks to rain and citizens who helped in the firefighting efforts, said Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi.

The Ash Canyon fire is the only one burning right now, he said. It is high up into the canyon and about 1/2 mile off of the trail. Firefighters are hiking into the area. The good news is the heavy rain aided in knocking down much of the smoke and flame, he said.

A handful of firefighters remain in the field behind Little and Roop. That fire burned about 1/2 an acre and came close to nearby homes but heavy rain and hail moved in just in time to help knock it down, Giomi said. It is currently being mopped up.

It has been a good week for 101-year-old veteran James Sorrentino of Carson City. It is a far cry from his Memorial Day weekend this year, when he and his caretaker were robbed at gunpoint in his home.

Earlier this week, the robbers were arraigned in court. Both pleaded guilty and face up to 35 years in prison.

Here is the Carson City area road report for the week of July 20-27, 2014: There will be road work on the section of Timberline Drive between both intersections with Prospect Drive. This section will be open to local traffic only, and through traffic will be detoured onto Prospect Drive.

There will be utility work primarily in the street shoulder on weekdays at the following locations. Minimal delays are possible.

— Gulch Road between Wagon Wheel Road and Combs Canyon Road.
— Lakeview Road west of Combs Canyon Road.
— Sandy Circle.

Firefighters were able to fully contain the Clear Creek fire by 7 p.m. Friday night, according to Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center.

There will be a Type 4 Incident Comander, 2 crews and an engine working and monitoring the Clear Creek fire today. The 187-acre fire on the south side of Highway 50 west, is believed to have started by a lightning strike on Wednesday.

Author Novella Carpenter, left center, tours the Greenhouse Project with founder Karen Abowd, left, and garden educator Camille Jones, on Friday, July 18, 2014. Carpenter, who wrote the New York Times Bestseller "Farm City," will speak at the Carson City Library Summer Reading Program for adults event at the Farmer's Market Saturday at 11 a.m.

Major paving work is scheduled to begin Sunday evening on Highway 50 in the Moundhouse area as part of a Nevada Department of Transportation project to enhance the highway.