As We See It

Ridiculousness abounds at a recent Downtown master-plan forum

An October 1 Downtown master-plan open forum drew 50-75 citizens.

The Downtown citizenry came—well, about 50-75 of them, anyway—to the second of two open forums held October 1 at the Historic Fifth Street School, organized to reveal progress and solicit public feedback on the development/overhaul of the City of Las Vegas’ master plan. They contributed in the form of wireless digital clickers and verbal comments. LA urban design/architecture firm RTKL, hired by the city as a consultant, led the meeting and, being from another city and unaided by anyone who actually represented Las Vegas, embodied a fish out of water—literally and figuratively.

About those clickers: When polled with a query that had four to five options audience members could choose, too many continuously chose “all of the above,” which—as local attorney/literary figure Dayvid Figler pointed out—rendered moot the aim of ascertaining Downtown residents’ actual priorities.

As for the verbal input, it tended to be reflective of the insular and myopic worldview of its speakers. One stubborn gentleman repeatedly parroted the anti-government party line despite the central and inextricable role government would play in any master plan. And then there were the usual new(er) residents bemoaning how Las Vegas needed to be more like Enter Other Metropolitan City Here.

If there was a voice of sanity and perspective, it was Future Restaurant Group owner Michael Cornthwaite, who critiqued the plan-in-progress’ lack of practicality. Cue the only applause of the night. “You’re still up at 30,000 feet,” he said minutes later. “We need to be at 100 feet.”

As such, the kitchen-sink vision statement was roundly rejected by the polled. One possible reason: its reliance on conceptual jargon like “co-creation,” heckled by one business owner as “bullsh*t.” He and two others left before meeting’s end. I can’t be the only one who wished I had followed suit.

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