Crystal Bay roads could close | SierraSun.com

Crystal Bay roads could close

Kyle Magin
Sun news service

Reconfiguring roads around Boulder Bay, a proposed redevelopment of the Tahoe Biltmore and surrounding property, will be an improvement for the Crystal Bay community, a representative from Boulder Bay, LLC said.

Some Crystal Bay residents, however, expressed concerns at February’s meeting of the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Citizen Advisory Board. The public comments at the Feb. 6 meeting noted that the improvement, which may abandon a roadway, will increase traffic headaches in the area.

Brian McRay, an engineer with the civil engineering firm Lumos Associates, which has a contract with Boulder Bay to design the project, said the current Crystal Bay road system is not working.

“Basically the current road system has created unsafe conditions within the site,” McRay said.

The roads around the Tahoe Biltmore have an unsafe slope, McRay said, and abandoning Wassou Road would allow for the flattening of excessive slopes on Lake View and Reservoir roads. Road abandonment, McRay said, is the process of the county abandoning a road to private ownership.

“The roads currently have unsafe downhill stopping situations and we’re trying to eliminate that,” McRay said. “We feel connecting Wassou up to Lake View is the safest option, which is why we’re presenting it.”

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The plan would connect Wassou to Lake View, eliminating the Wassou’s connection with Reservoir, and piping traffic down Beowawie Road and Reservoir Road to exit onto State Route 28.

Crystal Bay resident Frank Wright expressed concern with the project. He characterized the current Crystal Bay exits to State Route 28 as a “circus act” and said the project will snarl traffic in the area if Wassou no longer extends to Reservoir.

“They are closing an easy access point and opening a difficult one,” Wright said.

Jon Sell, fellow Crystal Bay resident, echoed Wright’s concerns.

“I’m not buying the fact that this will make getting down to (28) any easier. Traffic will be jammed if this plan goes into effect,” Sell said.

McRay said to combat traffic problems the project could call for road widening at the Reservoir and Beowawie exits onto State Route 28 and possibly widening Lake View to handle more traffic.

Brian Helm, the project manager for Boulder Bay LLC, said residents are welcome to bring their concerns to the Washoe County planning commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. on March 4 at the Washoe County Commission Chambers on 1001 East 9th Street in Reno.

“We aren’t going to go forward on this project without community support. We want this to be something the whole community is proud of,” Helm said.

He said Boulder Bay will be presenting its plans for the Tahoe Biltmore redevelopment at the planning commission meeting. Also, Helm said Boulder Bay will adress the undergrounding of utilities at the meeting.

Helm presented the preliminary plans at the CAB meeting for the project, which will include a 14-acre park, shopping, dining, a wellness center and a de-emphasis on gaming.

“Currently, Crystal Bay isn’t consistent with the surrounding community on the North Shore. Gaming isn’t consistent with the outdoor lifestyle the North Shore provides and that will be reflected in the plans,” Helm said.

He said the gaming area at the Biltmore property currently covers about 33,000 square feet and in the new plan there will be only about 18,000 square feet of casino area.

The Boulder Bay project plan also included about 21 condominiums and an underground parking structure. Altogether, Helm said the project will reduce the current ground coverage of the Biltmore property by 10 percent.

Helm said the project will be presented to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this month and, if approved, work will start in the summer of 2009. He said the work will be done in three, two-year phases to be completed in 2015.

Sell asked Helm how the project would include Crystal Bay residents and what the project would do for locals since it seemed geared toward tourists.

“We’re counting on local residents to bring their families to eat and shop, locals will be absolutely critical to our success. They will be especially important during the shoulder seasons, we will rely on them to be our base of business,” Helm said.