Incline Village awaits special permit decision for dog park
Special to the Sierra Sun
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The status of the special use permit to construct a dog park in Incline Village is still ongoing, and in the meantime, Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Indra Winquest is working to meet the needs of the community on the project.
The need for a dog park was identified in the Community Services Master Plan that was approved in 2019 by the Board of Trustees to address community needs in Incline Village. Currently, the only dog park in the district is at the Village Green, which serves as a recreation area as well. Seventy-two percent of the survey respondents either strongly or somewhat supported the creation of a dedicated dog park.
USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Public Services Staff Officer Daniel Cressy explained there are many reasons the application process could be held up at the moment.
“The process [of reviewing permits] is the same, but our capacity has changed due to COVID and other emerging issues,” Cressy said. “Our response to COVID is a top priority to keep our employees and the public safe. The Caldor Fire response is also a top priority, which means that other projects may be impacted. Finally, we receive more special use applications than we can process.”
Currently, it’s a waiting game for Winquest, who is unsure if the permit will be approved. He’s unsure if receiving public comment on the property is premature, given they might not be approved for the spot at all. Regardless, he’s excited to involve the community in any upcoming decisions.
“I have to put a committee together to start talking about them [the options],” said Winquest.
The committee would be assembled by Winquest and IVGID Trustee Sarah Schmitz and consist of community members that would decide on aspects of the park like where it could go if it is not located at the Village Boulevard location and the design.
“What we have now is all conceptual stuff,” Winquest said. “That’s in the Community Services Master Plan.”
The only designs available for the project online are complete examples, and if the dog park is pushed through, then the committee formed will create the final designs, which may or may not be based on those previous examples. Nothing online in the plan is concrete.
Some community members have expressed worry over the dog park, expressing that there should be more research into different locations for the park, including potentially moving IVGID’s disc golf course in order to build a park there.
“A few people think that we should … get rid of the disk golf course or move the course and put it next to the visitors center, which we looked at,” said Winquest. “It was an alternative site in the Master Plan, but when you really look at it, you can see the setbacks.”
Those setbacks included residential homes, the Tennis Center, environmental aspects, and the roads and highways.
Winquest explained that the location on Village Boulevard is not final and the committee that will be formed will look at other potential sites as well.
A concern of lack of public outreach was raised by a few residents like Judith Miller, who wrote an opinion piece for the Tribune recently outlining her concerns over the project.
“Mr. Winquest said he was forming a committee to evaluate potential sites and plan for the dog park,” wrote Miller. “There has been no public outreach. The idea of a dedicated dog park is not new. Let’s do it right and get the community involved in decisions, not just for the dog park, but for all of IVGID’s decision that will affect our community for years to come.”
Cressy explained that the National Environmental Policy Act requires that public input be considered during the analysis of projects subject to an environmental impact statement.
“The Forest Service requires scoping for all projects,” Cressy said. “The purpose of public involvement, also known as scoping, is to determine the scope of issues to be addressed and to identify significant issues related to a proposed action. The purpose of scoping is not to determine the level of interest, support, or objection to a project.”
The Forest Service will begin to look for public comment at the appropriate time during the environmental review, which would begin after the application is accepted.
Until then, Winquest is doing his best to juggle other community services projects in the area and putting together the committee that will begin to make decisions about the park.
He is working with staff to create a frequently asked questions page on the IVGID website in regards to the park in order to keep the community updated on all of the steps towards creating a dog park in Incline Village.
To review the Master Plan with more information about the dog park, visit yourtahoeplace.com/ivgid/resources/master-plan.
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