Coast Guard looking at Tahoma neighborhood for new tower | SierraSun.com

Coast Guard looking at Tahoma neighborhood for new tower

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY ” Lake Tahoe can expect to see the instillation of the newest in global positioning and communications technology as the United States Coast Guard continues their national program to replace their antiquated communication towers.

But while Coast Guard specialists continue to look at sites for the improved communications system, residents of Tahoma’s Westlake Village Subdivision, one of the preferred locations, are beginning to raise concerns about the possibility of a tower in their neighborhood.

The Coast Guard’s program, called “Rescue 21,” will replace the National Distress and Response System developed and installed in the 1970s.

According to Nick Fiorentinos, a realty specialist with the Coast Guard, the site at Tahoma is appealing because it offers a “one-site solution,” a less obtrusive alternative to building multiple towers. The site’s topography would also help the tower not stand out as much, Fiorentinos said.

But as Tahoma resident Ed Millers sees it, the tower could have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

“We neighbors are concerned about our property values, our health ” if there is harmful radiation ” and of the aesthetic factor of having a big ‘erector set’ tower in our back yard,” said Miller.

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With Coast Guard contractors evaluating additional sites at the request of the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Miller and his neighbors do not have to worry about waking up to a tower just yet.

According to Bruce Eisner, Program Manager for the California Tahoe Conservancy, and John Singlaub, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director, there has been no application or environmental document prepared for the proposed tower.

Because the conservancy owns the particular parcel of land in Tahoma, the Coast Guard must go through their board first. And the Conservancy Board has not yet had the issue before them, said Eisner.

“If the proposal is to move forward on conservancy land, than the analysis will be presented and the public will be invited to comment on the project,” Eisner said.

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.

Other locations being assessed by the Coast Guard include Homewood Mountain Resort and Crystal Bay.

According to Miller, these locations would better suit the project because “both locations are away from residential parcels.” Homewood also has electrical power in place, or close by, to run lifts and pumps for snowmaking, Miller added.

Singlaub said the Coast Guard is anxious to move ahead; however, without a location, it is hard to judge when the project could begin.

Because the project is for the Coast Guard and a matter of public safety, Singlaub said the Regional Planning Agency will try to move as quickly as it can, though, “They still have to meet our standards.”