College makes offer on McIver Hill | SierraSun.com

College makes offer on McIver Hill

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

Sierra College has made an offer to buy the 76-acre site, known as McIver Hill, and would use the site to house a permanent, expanded campus in Truckee.

The purchase will be made by the end of April if Measure E, a $394 million bond initiative to raise money for the community college district, passes in the March 2 elections, said Sierra College Planning Director Woodrow Wilson.

McIver Hill is currently owned by six partners represented by Managing Partner Tom French.

“Our group doesn’t intend to be the owner any longer,” he said. “I know that Sierra College thinks this is the jewel and the crown because of the location.”

Sierra College officials said they are excited about the parcel. After evaluating six different sites in town, the college has settled on the hill as the most promising.

“We are very enthusiastic about the prospects,” Wilson said. “It would be a wonderful addition of a campus that would be a service to the Tahoe-Truckee area.”

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Development ideas for the property south of Interstate 80 and east of state Route 89, start with the campus, a library and dorms, and range to a performing arts center, observatory, art gallery and outdoor amphitheater.

“The site will fit the program and the community that it serves,” said Frank DeCourten, dean of the Truckee campus. “We would like to have a large gallery that could host traveling shows, as well as display local artists.”

The announcement of the intent to buy the McIver Hill site follows a Town of Truckee general plan update meeting in which the public showed support for utilizing the hill location for a campus. Sierra College has met with the town to review preliminary ideas, and has completed assessment of access points and begun to look at the environmental conditions of the site.

One of the major questions with McIver Hill has been whether its steep slopes will allow sufficient access to the property.

“The access is the single biggest issue with the property, but we think we’ve solved it,” said DeCourten.

Sierra College hired SCO Planning and Engineering to look at access, and they determined that a road coming from the state Route 89/Deerfield Drive intersection could reach the flat part of the hill at an 8 percent grade, sufficient even in winter conditions.

“We’re working with [Sierra College] to look at project feasibility for a campus and other environmental constraints that need to be addressed,” said Dale Creighton of SCO.

But with the access problem solved, Sierra College is confident there are no other factors, besides finances, that would block the project.

“There is no significant environmental issue that cannot be mitigated,” Wilson said.

However, if Measure E, which needs 55 percent support to pass, fails in the March elections, it is unlikely that the Truckee wing of Sierra College will move to McIver Hill anytime soon.

“If Measure E doesn’t pass, the district won’t have the financial resources to purchase the campus,” said Wilson. “If we found another way, we could proceed, but we would have to borrow money.”

Measure E proposes to finance repairs and upgrades in the entire Sierra Joint Community College District through bonds that will be repaid by a property tax increase of approximately $19 per $100,000 of assessed value per year. The measure will be voted on in four counties: Nevada, Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento.

If the project goes forward, the new campus would be designed at three times the size of the current campus – enough space to accommodate the increasing demand of a growing area.

“We anticipate between now and 2015, our enrollment will grow to about 500 full-time equivalent students,” said DeCourten, whose campus now serves about 200 full-time equivalent students. “The large facility will allow us to roughly triple the amount of people we serve.”

“It’s a bigger campus for a bigger town,” he said.

For more information on Measure E go to http://www.mynevadacounty.com/elections.