In search of middle ground on Summit | SierraSun.com

In search of middle ground on Summit

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunOne of many Save Donner Summit signs erected in Soda Springs protests the Royal Gorge development. While the proposed project has polarized many summit residents, one group is trying to find the middle ground.
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As new development polarizes the Donner Summit region, one group is striving to bring all sides to the table, and give residents a unified voice.

With the support of a $14,000 grant from the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, the Donner Summit Area Association is working to promote responsible and smart development in the region.

The grant was awarded from a $65,000 pool designated by the community foundation for programs that increase civic involvement.

“The Donner Summit Area Association came to us a year ago with a position of finding middle ground and focus on solutions rather than polarization and lawsuits,” said Phebe Bell, program officer with the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. “Our board supported the idea and gave them more funding than they had planned to give.”

Bell said the association’s ability to bring parties from all sides to the table ” from the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association to the Royal Gorge development team ” exemplified the type of work the civic engagement fund promotes.

“I think this is a really important effort when you look at the time and money spent in Martis Valley ” could there have been an easier way to reach a solution?” Bell said. “Here is a group trying to hear from all sides.”

Daniel Wexler, the association’s president, said the community group is working with local homeowners groups and nonprofits to collaboratively negotiate with the Royal Gorge development team.

While the Royal Gorge development is an immediate issue on the summit, the Donner Summit Area Association wants to give residents a unified voice in all county planning issues.

Like the newly formed North Tahoe Citizen’s Action Alliance, the Donner Summit group is striving to foster local input and increase its impact with both Nevada and Placer county governments.

“We are trying to form a long-term vision for the Donner Summit community,” Wexler said. “We want to work with the counties to integrate the views of the community into the planning process.”

The effort began with a community survey and last year’s inaugural “Summit Summit,” Wexler said.

Building on those efforts, the association will next work with the two counties to present community views in a formal fashion, Wexler said.

He said another “Summit Summit” is tentatively planned for the latter half of September.