County threatens to railroad tenants out of train depot
Nevada County supervisors are giving tenants at the downtown Truckee intermodal station 90 days to clear out in a move to help alleviate budgetary woes.
“At this point the county has cut things to the bone throughout the departments and operations,” said 5th District Supervisor Sam Dardick, who represents Truckee. “The board of supervisors decided that it would give the town and all tenants 90-day notice that (the depot) will close.”
With several projects topping the county’s priority list for the year, the $148,000 it has left in the contingency fund budget is forcing supervisors to scale back departmental budgets, Dardick said. Caught on the chopping block is the intermodal station, which runs up a $39,000 maintenance bill each year, he said.
Basically, the revenue the station brings in is not covering county expenditures to keep it open and maintained, Dardick explained. He said the eviction notices would take effect Oct. 1, 1997.
The dissenting vote in Tuesday’s 4-1 decision, Dardick also said the county is looking for businesses, private parties or other entities to lease the historic structure in Truckee’s downtown commercial core.
Dardick said he has been in contact with representatives from Caltrans, the Downtown Merchants Association, the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District and the town in hopes of leasing the building.
“The county is willing to lease the structure and we could probably lease it for $1 a year,” Dardick said. “I don’t think this is a done deal (and) I think there is a way to keep that station open.
“I’m hoping we can find someone to take over (the lease).”
Town Manager Steve Wright said councilmembers have been negotiating with Nevada County to take control of the depot since incorporation in 1992. One of the town’s main concerns centered on possible soil contamination at the depot – the town didn’t want to buy the property if the soil was polluted.
A soils analysis came back negative and the two sides were close to an agreement, but negotiations halted when Truckee filed suit in 1996 against the county regarding allocation of the depot’s property taxes, Wright said.
The town estimated in 1996 Truckee should be receiving a extra $500,000 per year in property taxes collected by the county. The revenue discrepancy is retroactive and the town seeks the $500,000 for each year since incorporation.
As a result, Nevada County amended the agreement for the purchase of the depot to include a contingency provision – should the town prevail in the lawsuit, the county receives a $650,000 credit toward the property tax money that would be awarded in the lawsuit. Wright said the $650,000 is merely an arbitrary value the county attributes to the depot facility.
“The council thought that was unacceptable and negotiations ceased,” Wright said.
Currently, the town and the Downtown Merchants Association are trying to negotiate an agreement that would keep the depot open. The facility houses four businesses, the Truckee Visitors Center, Associated Truckee Travel Inc., Amtrak and Greyhound, all of which have or will be served with the 90-day notices.
“Our desire is to see the depot kept open as it is a vital part of the downtown area,” Wright said.
Truckee Mayor Bob Drake, who attended the supervisor meeting, said, “We are very, very concerned about the impact on the community with this move.”
Ed Candler, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said the group has already formed a committee to meet with the town to revolve the situation.
“We are very, very concerned,” Candler said. “It would an absolute crime to close the depot. Hopefully, (supervisors) will come to their senses and we will be able to negotiate this thing out.”
Candler also said the depot is a focal point of the Downtown Vision Plan, and to close it would destroy the long and many hours town staff, DMA volunteers and town residents spent preparing the plan.
“This would absolutely kill our plans down there,” he said.
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