Bringing Truckee to the river is part of town’s vision | SierraSun.com

Bringing Truckee to the river is part of town’s vision

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunThe former Nevada County corporation yard on West River Street may become a public plaza. The proposal is part of the Downtown River Revitalization Strategy.

Downtown Truckee’s riverfront area is due for a facelift as the effort continues to make the Truckee River the centerpiece of town.

The Downtown River Revitalization Strategy, a program mandated by Truckee’s downtown specific plan, seeks to expand the downtown core and make the Truckee River a focal point for the town. This involves replacing industrial uses and creating pedestrian connections between West River Street and Donner Pass Road. A key element of the strategy is the parcel of land where West River Street and Riverside Drive meet, now owned by the Town of Truckee. The parcel could eventually become the site of a public plaza.

“It would become a gathering area for the whole downtown core with river access ” like what was done in Tahoe City at the bridge,” said David Griffith, the town’s redevelopment and housing coordinator.

Along with the plaza, a mixed-use development including residential and commercial uses will likely be built on the roughly 1.4-acre property, Griffith said, and the town will be requesting proposals from private developers in the next few months.

He said he would like to see proposals for the mixed-uses and plaza by April, and ground-breaking in 2009, but said this would depend on the developer.

Before work begins environmental issues will have to be addressed, Griffith said.

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The proposed site was once Nevada County’s corporation yard, and was purchased by the town as part of a lawsuit settlement between the town and county over a revenue dispute, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.

Because it used to be a corporation yard, the site had soil contamination, Lashbrook said. The town contracted a company to clean up the contamination, Griffith said, which is nearly complete.

A second source of contamination in the ground water has also made its way into the site from the property north of West River Street, Griffith said.

He said property owners Chevron and Berry Hinckley hired Cambria Environmental Technology to investigate and remediate the groundwater contamination.

Matt Lonner, manager of public affairs for Chevron, said the contamination is diesel and gasoline, but is not moving and doesn’t pose a risk to the river, drinking water, or any sensitive habitats.

Some equipment is already in place to “skim” some of the spill out of the soil, and more will be installed to control and remove the contamination before mid-year, Lonner said.

Lashbrook said that while this site is owned by the town, much of the rest of the river revitalization area is privately owned.

“Particularly along the north side of the river it will take private partnerships with the town to pull this off,” Lashbrook said.

The town is also offering economic assistance to riverfront property owners willing to relocate, Lashbrook said.

The southern side of the river will largely be riverside park according to current plans, with the exception of the Bright property, directly across the river from the proposed plaza site, he said.

The Bright Property, which may be connected to the plaza area by a pedestrian bridge, could be developed into 40 single-family homes, 80 multi-family homes, or 120 lodging units according to current zoning, Lashbrook said, but the property owner’s plans are not known.