Agencies still evaluating alternatives for Coast Guard tower |

Agencies still evaluating alternatives for Coast Guard tower

TAHOMA ” While the California Tahoe Conservancy has filed with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to facilitate additional conversation about the proposed construction of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 antenna tower, Conservancy officials said “nothing’s happening very quickly.”

The pre-application filing is strictly for consulting purposes and does not endorse the Coast Guard’s project, said Bruce Eisner, a program manager for the Conservancy.

And since the Planning Agency and the Conservancy had already met in October to evaluate the project, the Planning Agency did act upon the application because they did not believe there was a need for a new meeting, Eisner added.

“The effect of signing the pre-application didn’t have an outcome,” said Eisner. “The reality is that nothing is moving ahead right now.”

For residents near Chinkapin Road in Tahoma, one of the primary locations being evaluated for the Rescue 21 tower, the project seems to be progressing faster than they had anticipated.

“We have seen that the (Conservancy) has started the pre-submittal process with the TRPA, and that leads us to believe that other sites are not being considered,” Tahoma resident and neighborhood spokesman Ed Miller wrote in a letter to the Conservancy.

In addition to the application, Miller said he has noticed red ribbons nailed to trees in the area where the tower would go, which seems to indicate some movement of the process.

But according to Eisner, no additional surveying has been done at that location since the Conservancy granted the Coast Guard a short-term license to perform the original evaluation.

“There have not been any new markers since October of last year,” said Eisner. “As for the two nails that were hammered into the two trees, those have been there and they are not something new.”

And while Miller and his neighbors said they worry the Conservancy has made up their minds about the Tahoma location, Eisner said nothing has been set in stone.

“We have informed the Coast Guard that until the alternatives have been sufficiently evaluated, we are not prepared to sign a formal application,” Eisner said. Alternative locations include U.S. Forest Service land within the Heavenly Ski Area, the Homewood Ski Area, Sugar Pine Point State Park, DL Bliss State Park, and two locations near existing water tanks on Lakeridge Drive and Highview Drive in the vicinity of Rubicon Bay.

As other options are evaluated, Miller asks the Conservancy and the Coast Guard to “be a good neighbor” and not endanger their lifestyles and home investments by putting the tower near their homes.

The Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 program is designed to replace the antiquated National Distress and Response System developed and installed in the 1970s.

If the Tahoma location is accepted, the 150-foot-tall tower would be erected 150 feet from an existing Tahoe Cedar Water Company water tank, painted to match the surrounding forest, and accessible by snowmobile during winter months, Eisner said.

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