Reno News & Review
Thursday, May 2, 2002
Steven T. Walther
Planning Governing Board will make a decision on May 9 that will determine
the ability of the public to acquire the 1,050- acre Ballardini Ranch
for our future generations.
The Ballardini Ranch is nestled in the foothills between McCarran Boulevard
and the Mount Rose Highway on the west side of the Truckee Meadows.
Portions of it can be seen from the valley at certain angles, but once
one walks up the foothills and looks down on this breathtaking ranch,
one realizes that it is a pristine piece of our natural heritage that
must not be lost. Its quiet atmosphere and scenic beauty, its wildlife
refuge characteristics and the access it provides to the Toiyabe National
Forest offer community assets that we can't afford to squander.
Significantly, if acquired for public use, it will link to 1,400 additional
acres dedicated by the Arrowcreek Development, which together will create
a strip of open space that will span the entire foothills between McCarran
and the Mount Rose Highway. These two parcels, which will consist of
about 2,500 acres, will ensure protection of habitat for mule deer and
create a nature preserve for our children.
Washoe County has supported this, allocating $4 million of a recent
bond issue toward its purchase. Both Reno and Washoe County recently
adopted formal resolutions supporting
purchasing the ranch with county bonds and federal funds.
On May 9, with the adoption of a Comprehensive Regional Plan, the RPGB
will determine whether the sphere of influence (SOI) of the city of
Reno will encompass any part of the ranch. At present, the northern
half of the Ballardini Ranch is included within the SOI of Reno. If
Reno's SOI is extended further into the ranch, it will send a signal
to the ranch's owner that Reno has a desire to develop rather than save
it, and thus raise the price--possibly out of reasonable reach.
On April 24, the Regional Planning Commission voted that the SOI not
be extended any further into the Ballardini Ranch. It voted to respect
the efforts of the citizens and the county to acquire the ranch for
the public. The status quo vote was fair and didn't enhance or detract
from the ranch's development potential or from the county's ability
to acquire it.
Interestingly (and correctly from a planning point of view), the RPC
expressed interest in removing the SOI from the entire ranch, but it
was uncertain as to whether it had jurisdiction to do so at that meeting,
and so declined to vote on the issue.
On April 29, in an effort to thwart the planning process that could
result in the status quo, owners of the Ballardini Ranch filed a request
to annex the entire Ballardini Ranch into the city of Reno, an unexpected
The governing board should not be daunted by this sudden action and
should vote to remove the SOI from the entire ranch or at least leave
it where it is. If it does not, the the public's opportunity to acquire
the Ballardini Ranch for a fair price may be lost.
Let's hope board members will unite and send a clear message that it
is the collective will of the governmental entities with the overwhelming
support of their citizenry to place the ranch in public hands forever.
Steven T. Walther is a fourth-generation Nevadan who has long
advocated placing the Ballardini Ranch in public hands.