Master plan process begins for railyard site | SierraSun.com

Master plan process begins for railyard site

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

The railyard site, land recently purchased by Holliday Development east of Commercial Row, is a step closer to development, as the Truckee Town Council authorized an agreement for the first phase of the master plan process on Thursday.

The beginning of the master plan process for the railyard site is the result of a 10-year effort by town officials and local leaders, including acquiring a $350,000 state grant for planning of the site.

“As you all know, the railyard site has been a centerpiece of planning here since at least 10 years ago when I got here,” said Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook. “Anticipate a significant effort on the part of the town.”

The first phase of the master plan will focus on infrastructure, background studies and the railroad’s use of a portion of the property as a turn-around track for railroad snowplows. The developer hopes that the railroad can find an alternative to the use of the balloon track. The first phase of the master plan is expected to take six months. The second phase will engage the public in deciding what actual development will go on the site.

The master plan process is unique in that it involves the town’s direct partnership with Holliday Development – a public-private relationship unprecedented in Truckee that reveals the town’s deep desire to see compatible development at the railyard.

“This wasn’t a property that I intended to buy,” Rick Holliday of Holliday Development said in front of the council. “But I found it met so many of the goals of my career that I had to buy it.”

The town council congratulated Mayor Josh Susman, a longtime supporter and advocate of developing the railyard site, on the site’s move toward completion.

Gauging support for open space

The town council also approved a budget amendment to hire a polling firm to gauge the public’s support for a initiative to buy open space within Truckee.

The town has planned putting a measure on the ballot to raise local tax money to purchase land that would remain undeveloped. The polling company will gather information on the chances that such an initiative would succeed.

The total cost of the hiring the firm will be $19,119.

Town looks into centralized maintenance program

Downtown property owners balked at the idea of a “hold harmless” clause, in which the town is not held liable for events associated with sidewalk and street maintenance. The department of public works is looking for a way to resolve inequities of snow removal and maintenance. Commercial Row on-site parking is plowed and maintained by the town, while other properties, such as the Safeway shopping center, are responsible for their own maintenance.

“We can’t be building infrastructure and not providing for the maintenance of it,” said Dan Wilkins, public works director.

Wilkins said that the long-term solution to the problem is a centralized maintenance program that is funded by local business that benefit from the maintenance. Property owners seemed to have little conflict with maintenance, however they strongly objected to accepting liability.

“We feel this is double double,” said West Street Property owner Alison Shelling. “The fees are making it almost impossible for little people like me.

“I actually feel blackmailed … I just find it absolutely unbelievable. I feel completely strapped,” she said.

The council agreed that this issue should be put on the agenda and discussed further. Staff and council members hope that the upcoming completion of the downtown parking study can provide more information on long-term solution to parking and parking maintenance in downtown Truckee.