Truckee Town Council looks to restore McIver Dairy property
Concerns over the current ecological state of the McIver Dairy property has prompted the Truckee Town Council to move forward with plans to restore the land.
The town in 2001 acquired the property, which sits across Donner Pass Road from the Tahoe Forest Health Center, to maintain it as an open space. Since then the property has been utilized, mainly by tourists, as a popular sledding hill.
“This project has been talked about for a long time but it needs to be addressed,” said Truckee Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee. “The meadow and the building have been abused for a long time.”
While the area is attractive to visitors as a recreation area, the mayor said some have left trash on the site and inside the old dairy building and a lack of suitable restrooms has made it difficult to maintain. The council suggested placing porta-potties near the sledding hills during the winter months or even constructing a bathroom facility.
In January, the town collected public input at the sledding hill, and later at a Truckee Thursday event, an open house and through a website survey about use of the site. Aside from the open house, which received mixed reviews, each survey revealed that over 70 percent of the people who participated supported improvements of the site including opportunities for summer use. Of those interviewed at the site during the winter, only 5 percent were locals while other surveys collected responses from a majority of Truckee residents.
OPTIONS TO EXPLORE
A staff report outlined two possible alternatives for the site which both involved installing walkways and two crosswalks across Donner Pass Road, and a potential on-site restroom. The second alternative would include the addition of a parking lot on the east side of the property to address heavy traffic on weekends and boardwalk crossings over the meadow. Both alternatives will be aimed at restoration efforts of the watershed on the property.
To begin the project the town will have to establish a partnership with the Truckee River Watershed Council, which was established to restore the Truckee River to its natural state and protect sensitive portions of the meadow and wetland. In accordance with the organization’s goals, the McIver project would include diverting sledding away from the meadow and building boardwalks over the watershed to prevent ecological damage from pedestrian traffic.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the town to make some use of this site while minimizing impacts,” said Council member Patrick Flora.
“There’s a fundamental disrespect of the site. Not from locals but mainly from people out of town,” said Nikki Riley, Development Director Mountain Area Preservation. However Riley encouraged the town council to “leave things as is and allow the watershed council to do their work.” She suggested that the council “definitely address bathroom and garbage issues.”
Flora said if the council moves forward with the project it should “do it as cleanly as possible,” and resort to building permanent restrooms at the site.
The town has hired a landscape architect, Callander Associates, to develop conceptual drawings for the council. If approved, the project construction could start next summer.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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