Opinion: North Tahoe Event Center — where do things stand today? | SierraSun.com

Opinion: North Tahoe Event Center — where do things stand today?

Duane Whitelaw
Opinion

The North Tahoe Event Center in Kings Beach has generated a lot of interest with local residents over the past few months.

I want to provide an update so that everyone understands what decisions have been made and, equally important, what decisions remain and how the public can provide input. Since my words are limited in this article, I'll leave out the history and focus on the last six months or so.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District provides sewer, water, and recreation and parks services to the residents of North Tahoe from Crystal Bay to Dollar Hill, with a couple smaller, private water systems providing service in the area as well.

The District's water rates fully fund water service while sewer service is funded with a combination of monthly rates and property tax. The Recreation and Parks Department is partially funded by the property owners with a special tax approved about 20 years ago by our residents.

All other revenue must come from North Tahoe Regional Park and North Tahoe Event Center rentals, grants, concessionaire commissions, and other fees paid for service. Shortfalls in recreation income has resulted in operating deficits that have been funded by reserves from the years when revenue exceeded expenses.

Last fall, Laulima Partners, LLC presented a proposal for a public/private partnership that included renovating and operating the Event Center in conjunction with their acquisition of the Ferrari Crown Motel.

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After receiving input from the public, the District opted to reach out to see if other potential bidders were interested. Following extensive advertising throughout western Nevada and northern California, a total of three local respondents provided proposals.

Each respondent provided public presentations and the Board voted 4-1 selecting Laulima Partners, LLC to attempt to negotiate a partnership agreement.

The first step in a partnership lease is to agree to create an Agreement to Negotiate Exclusively (ANE). The ANE will set out the period of time permitted for both parties to perform their due diligence, and consider contract minimums, while the other party performs a full and complete inspection of the Event Center building and reviews land and deed restrictions as they currently apply.

Even if the ANE is signed, it doesn't bind either party to move forward with negotiating a lease agreement for the operation and maintenance of the Event Center.

The finer points of the ANE are currently being negotiated with a goal of bringing it to the September Board meeting for approval. Once the ANE is signed, contract negotiations can begin.

More than 10 public meetings have been held since the first proposal was received last fall. This valuable community input has guided the Board-developed minimum requirements for any potential public/private partnership.

These include guaranteed public usage at affordable rates, eventual elimination of operating deficits, and capital asset replacements. Any successful partnership is based on the desire that both parties' needs are met; and Laulima Partners, LLC has their own conditions to ensure a viable proposition for them as well.

This could ultimately mean negotiating and signing a lease with Laulima Partners, LLC, or if unsuccessful, exploring other potential partners or business models. Addressing recreation solvency at NTPUD remains a very high priority.

The NTPUD always puts our constituents' needs first and makes decisions based on the best available information. The status of the North Tahoe Event Center will remain a monthly topic on the Board's agenda, even if for only an update.

If you can't attend the meetings and wish to receive additional information in the form of agendas or press releases, we encourage you to go to http://www.ntpud.org and sign up for our email updates. Video recordings of past meetings are also available on the District's website.

Duane Whitelaw is general manager of the North Tahoe PUD. Email him at DWhitelaw@ntpud.org.