Kings Beach conference center changes shape
Faced with an ongoing operating deficit, the North Tahoe Community Conference Center is headed for a business transition that may bring more recreation opportunities and programs to the Kings Beach venue.
“We want to keep the conference center open, but the current business model that has been used over the last 20 years is not successful,” said General Manager Curtis Aaron of the North Tahoe Public Utility District. “We want to find the best way to benefit the area and maximize the use of the building.”
The district’s board of directors has been weighing its options for the lakefront center over the last several months, and at Tuesday’s board meeting a new direction was discussed.
“In order to increase the level of use of the North Tahoe Community Center, a conglomeration of business ideas will be taken into consideration, the basic model being that of a Recreation Community Activity Center,” said Kathy Long, the district’s parks and facilities manager.
Conferences and weddings will remain an important revenue generator for the space, but district staff would like to expand community use by leasing some of the 16,000-square-foot venue to businesses, recreation providers and senior services coordinators, Aaron said.
Possibilities include providing office and board room space for a variety of North Tahoe businesses, creating gymnasium space to broaden recreational opportunities and even utilizing the kitchen for a Meals on Wheels senior service, Aaron said.
“Nothing is set in stone yet,” Aaron said. “We want to appeal to the customer base and provide services that aren’t already here.”
However, to maximize revenue and cut back on expenses, the district will have to eliminate three full-time positions ” the conference center director, the wedding planner and the event coordinator, Aaron said.
The employees ” one of which has served the position for 25 years ” have been notified of the termination, which will take place by October, and the conference center will now be under the wing of the parks and recreation staff, Aaron said.
“It’s a sensitive issue. It’s not something the district thought of lightly,” Aaron said. “But we looked at the budget and we can’t continue down this road.”
Despite copious amounts of space and floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Tahoe, the conference center continues to operate at a loss for the district as they struggle to compete with other area conference facilities.
“We’ve only been able to run at a positive revenue for two years over the past two decades,” Aaron said. “It’s an expense we can no longer afford.”
But the under-utilized space holds the potential to provide some much-needed services to the North Lake Tahoe region, said Stephanie Rogerson, director of the Community Collaborative.
“Currently the Boys and Girls Club in Kings Beach and the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center in Truckee provide some meeting space, a kitchen and a gym for community use,” Rogerson said. “But additional recreational facilities on the North Shore are critical for more activities in the winter, adequate meeting space and nutrition education.”