My Turn: Truckee gold, without the rush
November 10, 2008
“That’s another gold for Truckee …” ” Daron Rahlves
That statement, from considerably Truckee’s most famous resident has always stuck with me. As a relatively new resident of Truckee, and with all due respect to you really local “locals,” I sense there is more to it than just waving a flag. I’m a greenhorn here, and I still took a lot of pride in that statement.
“I’ve been traveling all over the world in the past year, when I come back to Truckee it amazes me what you can potentially do in just a short drive. It’s just incredible.” ” anonymous golfing partner.
I’ve closed many a day and thought of how little I’ve done ” that I could have. I might play golf under a blue-bird sky in the morning, kayak a gorgeous lake for lunch, and go rock climbing in the afternoon, and still feel that I left a bunch of things undone.
Even after a day like that, I can still lament that I didn’t go for a bike ride, or a hike on the Rim trail. How may places can you ride powder in the morning and get in 18 holes down the hill?
This all brings me to the greater point of what makes Truckee such an amazing place, and what makes us somewhat blind to our greatest resource ” our location, and the people that gravitate to it. I’ve been around long enough to see Tahoe City’s downturn, and Truckee’s uptick. I’ve also seen a resounding push to build, build and build more. What I don’t see is where this “build” will ever get us to a comfortable place.
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I see an empty castle being built, surrounded by beautiful resources that only a few will ever be able to afford the opportunity to enjoy, say Aspen, for example. I understand and appreciate the push to build new schools and revitalize the education system.
However, I don’t see building new facilities as an avenue to the education system’s success. In opposition to that, I offer a different idea on how to revitalize the infrastructure of our local economy in a way that integrates and calls all to arms. We need to tap our greatest resource ” the locale, and the people that inhabit it.
We desperately need an industry that integrates these resources; mountains, lakes, trails and the variances of our weather. We need an industry that can employ people, embolden the people and inspire the people.
To me, that means athletics and the outdoor life. We have a relatively small school system that churns out athletes that dominate in areas where numbers count, but talent counts for more.
We have the talent, and we have the lineage to produce some of the country’s greatest athletes. In addition, we have an environment that can be a training center for Olympians and professional athletes alike ” and perhaps most importantly ” a testing ground for equipment, its research and development.
Marketing Truckee as a performance athlete’s training ground is fertile for potent development. “Truckee Certified” is a label I can appreciate. If Patagonia, Burton or Voile inscribes a label on their ware that tells me it’s “Truckee Certified” I know it will work anywhere, in any weather, under all duress.
Building a training center for athletes could solve any facility problems our school’s have (athletically anyway) and combining this with private industry that caters to outdoor enthusiasts could help produce an economy that doesn’t live or die on second home owner’s wishes, will continue on during economic downturns, isn’t tied to building permits and water needs. Tax breaks to bring in a Marmot or Sierra Designs, or perhaps inspiring a local venture to that degree will bring stable jobs and put Truckee on the map like never before.
The resorts need fannies on the lifts and powder on the ground, an industry that caters to all the outdoor possibilities (performance footwear, clothing and equipment) aren’t left to hope for anything but another new sport to capitalize on.
Bring in this type of economy and new schools and services will follow. We need something stronger and more stable than housing construction to energize our tax base.
Building is finite; we only have so much land, water and infrastructure to handle more growth. Potent growth is what we need. Can we have the Olympics here?
Hell, if we tap into our greatest resources, we’ll be the Olympics headquarters in training, development and medals, and the benefits of such an endeavor would lift Truckee beyond a resort’ish town to a highly developed industrial town where jobs can’t ” and won’t ” leave their demographic. Another gold rush in the West? I think we can do it better the second time around.
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