The city of Sparks has emerged from the bleak days of the recession and is moving into an era of prosperity that calls for planning and diversified development, Mayor Geno Martini said Monday in his annual “State of the City” address.
“Sparks is a city that has survived the unsettling days of the great (recession),” Martini said, addressing a City Hall audience. “Like so many communities across our nation, we have suffered with loss. Our losses were numerous … For a while the future looked for many of us very bleak.”
The city, however, is leaving the darkest economic days behind, he said, “and it feels good to be on the up side of the economic events of recent times.”
“We are venturing forward with renewed enthusiasm and an eye towards prosperity,” the mayor said. “The main path we will take toward the prosperity is through economic development throughout the Truckee Meadows and Northern Nevada.”
Martini cited growth in the main sources of revenue that support city government operations: property taxes, sales taxes and building fees but cautioned that “does not mean or suggest that we have recovered from the effects of the recession.”
He called for ending the cap on property tax increases, which were enacted in 2005 by the Legislature when land values were soaring. The caps limit annual increases for owner-occupied homes at 3 percent and 8 percent for other property.
Martini highlighted several new housing developments in the city, including apartment complexes in Victorian Square and a new senior residential building near City Hall.
“In 2014, we began to see more life in single-family homes with 368 permits issued,” he said. “In 2015, that nearly doubled to 663. Get ready folks because it’s happening all over our community. The city of Sparks is growing again.”
But he warned that the city can’t rely solely on home construction for economic vitality.
“We must continue to diversify our development. Single-family homes alone can’t bring a stable revenue base. We need to encourage commercial development that brings the revenue required to support a full-service city with public safety services, parks and all the amenities we’ve come to expect in a progressive community. “
The city is preparing for growth but is “committed to resisting the temptation to grow for growth’s sake,” he said.
Later in his speech, he said: “The community absolutely loves who they are, so the planning challenge is how do you grow and not lose the amazing sense of community pride and this small-town family feel.”
As an example of getting ready for development, Martini said roadway challenges in and around Sparks “have never been out of our city leaders’ purview.”
He mentioned construction of the six-lane SouthEast Connector, which will be formally known as Veterans Memorial Parkway. The major road linking east Sparks and south Reno is scheduled to be completed in late 2017.
And he also cited the long-awaited improvement of the heavily used Pyramid Way-McCarran Boulevard intersection. That project is set for completion in the spring of 2018. “There’s going to be some pain,” he said of driving while work proceeds on the intersection. “So be ready for it.”
“The community absolutely loves who they are, so the planning challenge is how do you grow and not lose the amazing sense of community pride and this small-town family feel,” he said.
The mayor encouraged residents to provide feedback to help the city update its comprehensive or master plan, which guides how the city will grow and develop for the next 15 years. Residents can offer their opinions through a survey available online at IgniteSparksNV.com.
“City leaders don’t profess to know it all … This is the opportunity for you, the residents and stakeholders of Sparks, to let us know your vision of how to grow and develop our city.”