Donner Summit residents form new association
Donner Summit residents have formed an organization they hope will give them a united voice on development, traffic and education issues facing the communities west of Truckee.
The Donner Summit Area Association recently received its nonprofit charter from the state of California after nearly a year in planning. The association is actually a re-emergence of a community group that was active on the summit 20 years ago, said association president Dan Wexler.
“We love the summit, and we love the way the summit was before, and we hope to carry that into the future,” Wexler said of the mission of the organization.
The major task the association will be working on during the years to come will be a document that outlines how the Donner Summit community wants to see the area grow.
“What we want to do long-term … is to create a conceptual development plan ” a document that puts down the thoughts and ideas of what development we want to see up here,” said James Thomson, a board member of the association.
Donner Summit residents began to form the organization after a Nevada County study came out that said the summit was an unhealthy atmosphere for business and implied that the area was deteriorating.
Residents of Soda Springs, Serene Lakes and other Summit communities blasted the study for attacking the summit because of its uniqueness. They soon began meeting to form an organization that would outline how they wanted the area to progress.
“This would kind of be our version of the [county plan],” Thomson said.
But now, two larger issues are sure to be on the minds of the new association members. A group of Bay Area developers recently purchased Royal Gorge cross-country ski resort, and approximately 4,000 acres of land holdings on the summit. And Donner Trail School, an elementary school on Donner Summit, has been threatened with closure by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, although it received a one year reprieve earlier this year.
These issues, along with many others, affect the entire summit, an area that has a diverse population that lives in portions of both Nevada and Placer County.
“Often the issues straddle the county lines,” Wexler said.
Ted Owens, who represents the Nevada County side of Donner Summit, said the county split on the summit does fracture planning
“The challenges exist, without any doubt,” said Owens. “Each county has their own general plans.”
But these issues are not insurmountable, he said. And the residents’ push to provide their own vision of the area will help him in representing the area.
“I think that what they’re doing will be infinitely helpful to me as their supervisor to see what the residents up there want,” Owens said.
Wexler said the group is trying to include as many facets of Donner Summit as the association collects a representative view of the area.
“It’s always difficult to have lots of people come to some unified conclusion, but it has been easier than we thought,” he said.
The community development report, likely to take two years or more to complete, is starting to take shape, Wexler said. The association will be looking for state or county grants to help prod the process along.
“I think we’ll start small and grow it,” he said.
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