Large public service complex in the works | SierraSun.com

Large public service complex in the works

David Bunker

Plans for a large reshuffling of public services could land the Forest Service, the Town of Truckee and the fire district in an expansive new center.The proposed 90,000-square-foot center would be on 70 acres north of Glenshire Drive and east of Donner Pass Road.The Tahoe National Forest, the Town of Truckee and the Truckee Fire Protection District are all in advanced stages of collaborating on plans for the complex. The location would consolidate the Forest Service’s facilities, some of which are outdated or heading toward an expiring lease, give the fire department room to expand, and provide a spot for the town’s corporation yard and animal control department. It also means that 82 acres of Forest Service land just north of downtown Truckee, the town corporation yard site and Truckee Fire’s downtown offices may come up for sale.However, the proposed center still faces obstacles. Initial grading cost estimates came in at $10 million, much higher than the partners expected, and the site may be contaminated from the years it served as an informal dump.Under the best conditions, the project could begin construction in early 2006, according to the Forest Service. But the three entities are still negotiating the details of plans and cost estimates before the project becomes official and heads to environmental review.”Probably the biggest hurdle is understanding the costs to the respective agencies,” said Rick Maddalena, recreation and land use officer for the Truckee District of the Tahoe National Forest.Forest Service plansThe Forest Service’s two locations in town are reaching the end of their usefulness. The Truckee Ranger District office near Coachland is a leased building, and the owner is planning on redeveloping the property when the agreement expires in 2007, the Forest Service said.

Much of the Forest Service’s work center off of Indian Jack Road – behind downtown Truckee on the north side of Interstate 80 – was built in the 1930s, and many of the structures need rebuilding, said Maddalena.”They need major renovation to carry us into the future,” said Maddalena. “There is a whole string of reasons why it is time to move on.”The new center would enable the Forest Service to bring in firefighting crews and equipment that are strung out across the area in Hobart and at Stampede Reservoir. The proposed site, which is owned by the Forest Service, offers good access to all part of town.”We have to find a new office, and leasing space in Truckee is very expensive and it is not easy to find a good location with great access to the public,” said Maddalena.Fire stations at Hobart and Stampede are so outdated that the engines no longer fit within the bay doors.”We have vehicles that are worth $350,000 that are parked in the sun all summer and the rain all winter,” said Maddalena. The public service center would solve that problem with a three-bay fire station to go with a 10,00-square-foot office; a building for the fire handcrew stationed in Hobart; two, nine-person barracks; and a warehouse and shops. In the future the site could hold a visitor center and some townhouses for Forest Service employees. The Forest Service will spearhead the National Environmental Policy Act process for the plans if they become an official project, while the Town of Truckee will take the lead in the state environmental review. Town of TruckeeTruckee began a search for another location for its corporation yard, which houses public works equipment like snow and sand trucks, more than two years ago. The current yard sits near the river and adjacent to a neighborhood, making it a poor spot for a longterm yard.

“In the winter we have 24-hour operations running out of there so it is very incompatible with the adjacent neighborhood,” said Public Works Director Dan Wilkins.The yard, along with the animal control center, is expanding operations as the town grows, creating the need for new facilities.Wilkins said that a new “state-of-the-art” corporation yard centrally located on the Forest Service land could improve efficiency and reduce employee costs to the town.But it is not a “100 percent foregone conclusion that the project will go forward,” said Wilkins.The town council will make the final decision on whether to pursue the animal control and corporation yard plans on the Forest Service land “We need to make sure that we can use the land for our intended purpose before we would lease it or buy it,” he said.Truckee Fire Protection DistrictTruckee Fire’s administrative building downtown is more suited to a commercial business than a fire district office, said Chief Mike Terwilliger.”This is more appropriate for a downtown business,” said Terwilliger. “We have no parking.”

The district plans to move its administrative offices to the site and also allow for a future two-bay fire station that could serve the Gray’s Crossing area.”It’s an immediate need for administrative and a future need for a station,” said Terwilliger.The administrative building is planned as 10 offices and a reception area in a 10,000-square-foot building. The fire district plans to own the buildings but have a special use agreement or long-term lease to use the Forest Service land, Terwilliger said.What will happen to current locations?If the public service center becomes a reality it will have a domino effect on land use throughout the town. The Forest Service will auction off the 82 acres that currently houses its work center. The parcel, although federal land, has a zoning of one residential unit per two acres.”It’s planned and zoned as if it is private property,” said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee community development director.The zoning would allow 41 clustered houses on the property, but topography, Trout Creek and utility availability may hamper that level of development, officials said. The town’s corporation yard has been discussed as a possible location for an equipment yard for the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District. It could be leased or sold to the district, or rezoned and sold to the highest bidder, said Wilkins. The land is currently zoned for public use.The Truckee Fire Protection District’s downtown offices could also be sold or leased. They are owned by the district, but the land under them is leased from the railroad. The building could also be retained by Truckee Fire and operated as a museum or another use.