My Turn: We cannot ignore opportunities to enhance our community with balance
I attended the last planning commission meeting which had only two items on the Agenda. Pollard Station Senior Living Facility and housing project review, and the consideration of zoning changes allowing backyard chickens on residential property in qualified instances. I love this small town environment. Where else would such diverse issues share the stage.
There appeared to be strong support for Pollard Station in concept. Whether the revised plan under town direction is acceptable remains to be seen. Location and acceptance by neighboring property owners is the challenge. The juryand#8217;s still out.
As for the poultry, I do have it on good authority that our resident coyote population is just thrilled over the prospect of white meat being available. The town has their vote. But not mine.
In preparation for the meeting I re-visited the Hilltop Master Plan, which was approved in August 2008. The master plan established land use types and densities for the assembly of multiple properties. This master plan has been shaped more than 20 years, dating back before town incorporation in 1993.
The approved Hilltop Master Plan provides for 52,265 square feet of commercial, and 350+ lodging and residential units. I donand#8217;t see evidence of downsizing and adjustment over the years, as we did in the Martis Valley General Plan update when I suggested that the extraordinary density of mixed uses might be scaled down and the plan recognize, incorporate and feature historic uses. I was reminded that the plan has been around the horn. But this is today. Fresh, creative thinking is surfacing.
Hilltop has an extraordinary and prominent history as evidenced by extensive record. Recreational and competitive ski jumping was a draw to Truckee along with other winter attractions. And our town and winter season events were accessed by trains. I respectfully suggest the town consider a significant re-birth of this magnet. Competitive ski jumping has not died. It continues east of us. Maybe we could be on a circuit. Downhill longboard ski races and other events that re-capture this history, increase tourism and add significant economic benefit. Hilltop is a logical site for a ski museum. It affords an excellent opportunity for a winter carnival. Some good bones still remain in the Cottonwood restaurant, the original day lodge.
Just imagine an aerial tram connecting Hilltop to downtown. Itand#8217;s hardly a new concept. What a convenience for the neighborhoods. What a boon to downtown business. Provision for parking in the winter could provide access to downtown in the summer too if a tram were realized. And if the DPW site on West River Street moves forward in some form of public park or plaza, we have proximate revitalization and connection. Thinking large, implementation of a Truckee River Revitalization Plan would compliment these other components.
The Hilltop Master Plan should be downsized. Dramatically. Itand#8217;s not too late. Thereand#8217;s still opportunity to refine and re-focus certain elements.
Another wave of residential and mixed use development is around the corner and encircling our town. Hilltop is just one. The Coldstream project known as PC-1; the Joeger Ranch property, known as PC-3; Canyon Springs in Glenshire; and a lot of unfinished business at the multiple resort developments that have surfaced over the past 10 years. The town planners appear to be sensitive to this, and are looking at the economic impact of additional growth. Rational growth over time should be the goal, and not at the expense of todayand#8217;s residential and commercial development inventory by saturating our market or diluting small business.
Letand#8217;s show respect and sensitivity to our history through sensitive planning, recognition of where weand#8217;ve been, mistakes that have been made and where we would like to be in the future. Our legacy. We cannot, and should not, ignore remaining opportunity to enhance our community with balance.
Mike Dunsford is a Truckee resident.