Sparks: Nevada’s City of Failure

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business, boxes with nothing in them

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business:  boxes with nothing in them

348°  One of the ongoing tragedies in Nevada is the resource-sucking duplication of two cities in one valley. Reno was founded in 1868. About 30 years later the railroad put in a switching yard a few miles east of Reno and rabble living there declared it and surrounding few houses a city. It was originally named after the President of the railroad, but it was quickly renamed after the current Governor of Nevada, John Sparks, who was very cozy with the railroad.

The attitude of the City of Sparks has probably always been one of jealousy of Reno. Sparks main feature has always been the railroad yard, which is as close as the city comes to having a downtown. The desperation to best Reno has led Sparks to be on a never-ending campaign to steal commerce from the original city.

One example of the damage Sparks has done to the community is the desperate attempts to create a premier shopping center at the far east side of Sparks. To entice businesses they offered taxes incentives. Lowe’s took advantage of this by closing down one of their large home improvement centers in Reno and relocated in the Sparks. Now the community has no additional jobs, but the business provides less in tax revenue for the citizens.

The result has been to have three competing governments (City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County) serving one community, each with duplicate services. No one is benefiting from the mud wrestling-like competition. The premier shopping mall in Sparks is noticeably lacking in customers, even during the holidays.

The Reno/Sparks/Washoe fiasco is typical of Nevada. It is why we are the best of all the worst indicators. High in violent crime, high in unemployment, low in education. Barring a miracle, failure is Nevada’s only option.

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