Bill McGlashan My Turn: A different view on the future of the Vets Hall
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Having discussed with several members of the “McGlashan Clan” – descendants of C.F. and Nona McGlashan who love and actively visit Truckee and surrounding areas for social and recreational purposes – I would like to add a “family voice” to the public input on the proposed sale by TDRPD of the site of the former “McGlashan Mansion” – the Truckee Veteran Hall building.
Ideally, there would be a way to preserve the history of the “McGlashan Mansion” site while having it serve the people of Truckee. This was attempted some years ago when the Truckee Donner Historical Society launched a planning effort to gauge the viability of demolishing the Veterans’ Hall Quonset hut building and erecting a building to serve the needs of the Truckee community.
The replacement building was envisioned as a replica on the outside of C.F. and Nona McGlashan’s wonderful residence that had graced the site for so many years until in burned down in 1935. For many reasons, the plan showed that such a course was economically infeasible. The plan died.
This effort showed that it is not an easy task to “preserve history” when the historic building(s) that were originally on a site burn down and are not replaced with structures of similar architecture. With the exception of the present gazebo atop the large granite boulder which to some extent represents C.F.’s museum surrounding the Rocking Stone, that is the situation that has existed ever since the Quonset hut was built in the 1930s.
So as a Truckee community it seems that there are no ideal choices. On the one hand the current deficit spending by TDRPD on the largely unused Quonset hut building is not viable. On the other hand, there does not appear to be one or more public community groups in a position to take ownership of the site and enhance it.
Hence, it seems attractive for TDRPD to sell the largest part of the property to the Church (or, per the closing paragraph below, other community organization(s) if a truly viable alternative is quickly put forward) following a split of the property so that the “gazebo portion” of the site would be retained by TDRPD. This would be particularly desirable if the surrounding property is upgraded by TDRPD into a nice neighborhood mini-park since that would keep in public hands a popular spot for visits as well as future public commemorative events under the gazebo, including those by veterans’ groups, of course.
One understands the potential opposition of neighbors to any sale – the attractiveness of the silence and absence of traffic of a building not being used (albeit silently disintegrating over time). But after all, Old Truckee is the scene of many a wonderful if noisy event, such as parades, “Truckee Thursdays” and passing trains, to name a few. (And any buyer of the site could be asked to agree to a recorded covenant restricting sound, such as no amplified sound after 10 p.m.).
One fact worth having in mind during this public discussion: Some people think that when TDRPD purchased the prop for $1 in 1994 the deed required the building be used for “recreation and veterans.” In fact, that deed requires only that the site be used for “recreation services in eastern Nevada County” (or it would revert to the County) – it is silent on the question of veterans. And the county has apparently agreed to waive its right of reversion, so the proposed sale to the church or other non-recreational organization is apparently OK.
Finally, to ensure that the Truckee community has had ample opportunity to consider alternative uses for the building now that there is greater public awareness of the pending sale to the Church, it would seem appropriate for TDRPD to delay the sale to the church for, perhaps, a period of three or four months.
This would provide the opportunity for one or a combination of community-service groups to come forward with a joint proposal to sign five-year lease contracts with TDRPD which would cover the ongoing costs of maintaining the building, including rent increases as necessary for any additional capital investments to maintain roofing, drainage, parking lots, etc.
If no such proposal were received, it would seem the sale to the church following a split of the property would be a reasonable course for TDRPD to take.
Bill McGlashan Sr. is the great grandson of C.F. and Nona McGlashan.