$20 million bond measure: Parties unite, residents divide | SierraSun.com

$20 million bond measure: Parties unite, residents divide

Jason ShuehSierra Sun
Jason Shueh/Sierra SunA packed house attended the Truckee-Donner Recreation andamp; Park Districtandamp;#8217;s special Monday night meeting to discuss the next steps of a $20 million bond to create new aquatics, trails and performing arts facilities.

TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; With the recreation and park district board set to perhaps take action on a $20 million bond proposal later this week, stakeholders are recommending more public outreach be done until April in light of increasing resident opposition.At Mondayandamp;#8217;s Truckee-Donner Recreation andamp; Park District special bond board meeting, stakeholders unanimously decided to continue investigating the bond, while residents, for the first time since the bond was proposed, openly stood to oppose it in a public meeting, citing the recession and lack of property owner representation as fundamental stumbling blocks.A few residents, out of a packed room of about 50 people, argued the new facilities would be a burden on both the district andamp;#8212; which would have to maintain them andamp;#8212; and residents, who would be taxed for them.The bond, as written, would provide a $12.5 million aquatic center, a $6.5 million performing arts center and about $8 million for Legacy Trail, Tahoe Donner Connector Trail and Brockway Trail completion andamp;#8212; a total of $27 million, with the additional $7 million coming from leftover funds from the recently built community center.A couple who own a second home in Truckee said it would be unjust for property owners to have to pay for the measure, while voting renters in the area would not.andamp;#8220;I donandamp;#8217;t want these things on the backs of those people who are just hanging on,andamp;#8221; added district resident Lynn Larson. andamp;#8220;There are those who believe this project will bring money to the community andamp;#8212; there is no proof, only wishful thinking.andamp;#8220;You will have organized opposition.andamp;#8221;

Board members said economic impact of new facilities is one of the primary reasons for creating the bond, which would create local jobs, add much-needed upgrades to the town and stimulate the economy further through trail connectivity and tourism outlets.Despite having property owners pay off the full amount, board members said the bond will benefit them by providing higher property values to assessed homes.andamp;#8220;The point is we donandamp;#8217;t want to build lower or smaller, inadequate facilities andamp;#8212; we want to build something that will have a positive economic impact,andamp;#8221; said board Director Kevin Murphy. andamp;#8220;Here we have an opportunity to benefit the community immediately.andamp;#8221;Aquatics, trails and performing arts stakeholders who met privately earlier that night said they will continue to support investigation of the bond and recommended the board allow until April andamp;#8212; the maximum amount of time for the bond to go to voters for an August mail-in ballot andamp;#8212; for public discussion.Dan Kates, president of the Truckee Aquatics Coalition, said he observed from the meeting that all parties want the district to continue using the bondandamp;#8217;s consultant, Charles Heath, a principal consultant with the San Francisco firm TBWB Strategies, for a possible second survey.andamp;#8220;What we are in favor of is retaining Charlesandamp;#8217; company and doing some investigation and seeking public input,andamp;#8221; Kates said. andamp;#8220;There needs to be a lot of public education.andamp;#8221;

In attendance, Heath answered numerous questions that, at times, were accompanied by heated exchanges from residents toward board members.One question posed to Heath was why not separate the bond into three parts to make it more affordable to residents. Heath said passage of a bond like that would be unlikely.andamp;#8220;The challenge in California is to pass a bond, you need a two-thirds vote by voters, and if you take your proposal and break it down into small parts, each of those small parts only appeals to a small part of the community andamp;#8212; so itandamp;#8217;s hard to get that two-thirds vote,andamp;#8221; Heath said.Heath was also questioned on how voter polling was done and why many residents in attendance had never been polled. Heath said trained pollers condense their sampling into a pool of voters most likely to vote during a mail ballot election, randomly calling voters from the narrowed pool.andamp;#8220;There are 8,948 voters in the district to be exact,andamp;#8221; Heath said. andamp;#8220;So we start with that pool of voters and we look at those voters who are most likely to vote during an election with a mail-ballot. We then shrink it to that number of voters and then randomly take a sampling from that pool of voters.andamp;#8221;

Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook attended the meeting. He reminded residents why the bond is on the table.andamp;#8220;I think itandamp;#8217;s important to remind everyone here that the recreation district is responding to resident requests,andamp;#8221; Lashbrook said, referring to an earlier poll conducted by Heath last summer, showing a desire from residents for new aquatic, trails and performing arts facilities andamp;#8212; trails the No. 1 pick by residents.Lashbrook also re-emphasized the townandamp;#8217;s neutrality on the issue until the recreation and park district cements a firm plan.andamp;#8220;Weandamp;#8217;re watching the process unfold andamp;#8212; we havenandamp;#8217;t seen that push at council meetings to participate more in this process,andamp;#8221; Lashbrook said.Ending the night and closing the meeting, TDRPD General Manager Steve Randall said staff will continue to investigate the bond with public outreach and education the primary goal for the bondandamp;#8217;s success.andamp;#8220;The (stakeholdersandamp;#8217;) recommendation is to start the education process,andamp;#8221; Randall said. andamp;#8220;They are not recommending the board to pull the plug, but to potentially have a survey down the road … the community is much more than whatandamp;#8217;s in this room.andamp;#8221;The TDRPD board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Truckee Community Recreation Center, at 8924 Donner Pass Road. Discussion on the bond measure is on the agenda.

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