Bringing downtown to the Truckee River | SierraSun.com

Bringing downtown to the Truckee River

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra Sun

See what the Town of Truckee has planned for the Truckee River at http://www.townoftruckee.com/riverplan.htm.

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TRUCKEE ” Downtown’s commercial core is near the Truckee River, not on it.

Instead of being a tourist attraction or centerpiece for the community, much of the waterfront paralleling downtown is industrial, run-down, or vacant.

But plans to change all that include creating public access, parks, and plazas along the river to take advantage of one of the area’s most prominent natural resources ” they’re just waiting for the economy to turn around.

On one side of the river on West River Street, the town is cleaning up an old county plot used for equipment storage with hopes of it one day being a public plaza, said David Griffith, housing and redevelopment coordinator for the town.

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And on the other side at the end of South River Street, a piece of private property ” once disputed by a family now under the control of one person ” has the potential for residential or lodging development along with a riverside park, Griffith said.

“That’s a really important aspect of whatever goes there ” public river access,” Griffith said.

Combined with a leg of the Truckee River Legacy Trail planned to span from Glenshire to Donner Lake and a footbridge crossing the river, that space becomes a focal point for visitors and residents, Griffith said.

“I love the idea of that connectivity,” said Ron West, who represents the Bright property on the south side of the river. “I think it’s a stroke of genius.”

But like Griffith, West said he doesn’t think much will happen without a better economic outlook.

“Even if somebody wanted to build something where would they get the money?” West said.

He said there are no plans for the 26.5-acre Bright property yet.

Griffith said town zoning allows for up to 40 single family homes, 80 multi-family units, or 120 lodging units ” or a combination of the above.

Still, with soil cleanup wrapping up next summer on the town property across the river, Griffith said he wants to start soliciting proposals for a plaza within a year.

“It’s a big priority for the town,” he said.

West said that the Bright Property owner’s know of the plot’s importance.

“We’re aware that we have a really important part of downtown so we want to make sure that whatever happens, it’s well thought out,” West said.