Congratulations to Spring Creek for taking big steps into the 21st century.

Members of the Spring Creek Association this week held their first meeting in the new Fairway Community Center, which includes a bigger and better clubhouse and Jerman’s restaurant.

It took more than two years for the center to be completed after plans were approved in February 2015. The $1.8 million project made it through setbacks that delayed construction and added to the cost. Now it is a showcase for the community and its homeowners association, which had been operating out of a small and rundown building with an assessed value of about $30,000.

We are happy to see the improvements in this community, which has been considered an extension of Elko as it struggles to form its own identity beyond that of a bedroom community for retirees. The sprawling subdivision with 5,420 large lots and 150 miles of roads was started in the 1970s and has grown to near capacity.

We also support Spring Creek’s potential effort to become an incorporated town, and to develop the commercial base needed for such a transformation. Under the direction of President Jessie Bahr, the association this month applied for zoning changes that would allow for more businesses along the housing section’s parkway.

For many years the only commercial development in the subdivision was the shopping mall at the edge of the mobile home section along Lamoille Highway, anchored by Khoury’s market and gas station. Then another shopping center was developed in the housing section’s interior, not far from the marina and golf course.

Development of what is now open land would be an asset to the community, but its finances are still limited by the HOA structure that charges fees by the lot. This puts Spring Creek on a fixed income, which is obviously not ideal for a maturing community.

In the coming weeks and months we will be reporting more about the potential for incorporation and other news developments, including the controversy over rising water rates under the community’s private utility. We support legislation currently under consideration to increase the Public Utility Commission’s regulatory role.

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A PUC meeting held this month Spring Creek gave residents a chance to sound off about water bills, which are based on meter readings instead of a flat rate like Elko residents pay. Rates will no doubt continue to rise because of expenses in maintaining the aging water system, but all Spring Creek residents deserve to be billed fairly according to accurate measurements of their water use.

These and other issues confirm that Spring Creek is indeed at a crossroads, as stated on its website:

“Spring Creek’s population has grown so that it now rivals neighboring Elko, and the population that first settled the area has changed demographically so that what it needs and values now has evolved from the rural and outdoors focused group that initially became residents. Additionally, issues such as adequate police, fire, water and other services have increasingly been seen as lacking. Finally, the amenities that brought the initial residents to Spring Creek have fallen into varying states of disrepair and are of decreased importance to a growing segment of the area’s residents.”

Bold, new approaches are needed to keep the community on track. The challenges faced by Spring Creek are at least partially offset by the quality of life, which includes larger lots, views of the Ruby Mountains, and amenities such as the marina and Horse Palace.

It’s a great place to live, and improvements such as the Fairway center and business expansions will make it even better.

Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are Travis Quast, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak McKown.


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