Guest Column: Public vs. private property and the roundabout
July 29, 2013
When the Incline Village Gateway roundabout was constructed in the summer of 2012 it created a beautiful new gateway to the communities of Incline Village and Crystal Bay on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.
This project was a great example of a public/private partnership between the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Gateway Committee consisting of myself, Jim Clark and Jim Nowlin. along with sculptor June Towhill Brown and the support of a number of individuals and some local agencies.
The entire project was constructed on land owned by the state of Nevada and is part of the NDOT right-of-way which permits traffic to flow through this important intersection of Highway 431 and Highway 28.
While the public has permission under state law to utilize the two highways that make up this intersection, the roundabout itself is actually off-limits to the general public.
First and foremost is the issue of safety. There are no crosswalks connecting the roundabout to the nearby sidewalks. Anyone attempting to cross the highway to reach the roundabout is putting him or herself in danger of being hit by a motor vehicle.
The only people who are allowed to set foot in the roundabout are employees of NDOT, their approved subcontractors and the Gateway Committee (the latter specifically for the purpose of maintaining the sculptures and removing trash, debris and foreign objects).
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The beautiful bronze statues of the native wildlife were paid for by the generous donations of members of our community. The patina on the statues can easily be damaged when decorations or anything else is placed on them.
During the past year, a number of people have trespassed onto the roundabout and placed ribbons, articles of clothing and other types of foreign objects on the statues.
It's not appropriate to walk into a museum and decorate a statue or a piece of art that is hanging on the wall, and the same is true for the bronze statues situated in the roundabout.
Lately, some people have taken to placing signs promoting yard sales and various types of events in the roundabout and on the concrete dividers as you approach the circle.
All of this activity is strictly prohibited by NDOT, since these are not public lands. Before anyone can put any objects such as a sign or flag in or upon any NDOT right-of-way, they must get written permission from NDOT.
Since NDOT does not grant permission for these types of activities except in the most extreme and necessary circumstances, there is no legitimate reason for anyone to be placing signage, flags or any other objects in or near the roundabout.
It's important for everyone to recognize and understand that just because a piece of land might be owned by the state of Nevada, depending on the specific purpose of that land it may or may not be available for use by the general public.
Please abide by the following roundabout rules:
1. No trespassing in the roundabout. Do not touch or climb on any of the bronze statues.
2. Only NDOT employees or authorized personnel with the proper encroachment permit can work on any of the plantings, remove debris or perform maintenance operations in the roundabout.
3. No signs, decorations or objects of any type are permitted to be placed in the Roundabout or on any of the statues, boulders, the monument rock or the concrete dividers on highways 431 or 28.
4. No stopping in the roundabout circle.
5. No photography within the roundabout circle. Photographs should only be taken by pedestrians standing on the sidewalks which are situated outside of the flow of traffic. No photography or any other activity is permitted on the apron bordering the roundabout.
6. Vehicles in the roundabout always have the right of way; vehicles trying to enter the roundabout must yield to traffic that is already in the roundabout. Drivers should slow down to 15 miles per hour when approaching the roundabout, then enter and exit cautiously to keep traffic flowing smoothly and to prevent accidents.
Think of the beautiful bronze statues in the roundabout as though they were pieces of art in your favorite museum. You would not walk into a museum and install decorations or signs. The same is true for the roundabout which is the gateway welcoming millions of people each year to Incline Village and Crystal Bay.
While the roundabout is situated on state of Nevada land and within the NDOT right of way, it is off limits to the public and will always retain that protected status.
Don Kanare is an Incline Village resident.