North Tahoe’s Dollar Creek trail nearly ‘shovel ready’
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Federal, state and local officials have finalized a deal regarding the Firestone property that clears the path for construction on a long-awaited North Shore trail.
Meanwhile, details involving future ownership of the property are still being ironed out.
On Feb. 5, the California Tahoe Conservancy board unanimously approved easements from the North Tahoe Public Utility District to Placer County for construction and maintenance of the Dollar Creek Shared-Use Trail project.
“It puts us one step closer to getting this trail on the ground, which I think is what all agencies are working toward,” said Victoria Ortiz, communications liaison for the Conservancy.
The proposed 2.4-mile trail on the 85-acre piece Firestone property atop Dollar Hill is part of a larger 8-mile trail project that will extend to the North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista.
With the Conservancy’s approval, the Dollar Creek Shared-Use Trail is very close to “shovel ready,” said Peter Kraatz, assistant director of the county’s Public Works department.
The Federal Highway Administration, which awarded a $3.4 million grant for trail construction, will be responsible for bidding the project, he said.
Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, said since the project is still being designed, it’s “unclear” when it will be bid or when construction can begin.
The easements approval does not transfer ownership of the Firestone property from the PUD to the county, Kraatz said. Terms are still being worked out between the agencies.
A final agreement is anticipated to go before the PUD, the county and the Conservancy for approval in late spring/early summer, he said.
Placer County is seeking ownership of the property in return for taking over the PUD’s responsibility to construct, operate and maintain the 8-mile trail.
Firestone ownership became an issue in late summer/fall 2014 amid disagreements between the county and PUD. The Conservancy stepped in, advising both parties to come to an agreement or for the PUD to move forward with the trail project before the state could reclaim the property.
NTPUD bought the property in 1990, after getting a $1.186 million grant from the Conservancy two years earlier, earmarked for the PUD to acquire the land.
Under that agreement, NTPUD was required to maintain the Firestone property for open space and the bike trail, including its construction, operation and maintenance.
Future uses for the property beyond the bike trail, which is a concern of local residents, will involve a public process.
Additionally, any land use change would require the purchase of the land at fair market value and be subject to environmental review and requirements imposed by the California Environmental Quality Act, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Placer County.