Other than a few costly suggestions, future of old Tahoe City fire station uncertain
October 21, 2011
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; As firefighters look to begin vacating the old downtown fire station, government officials are beginning to assess a few multi million-dollar options for the future of the property that appear possible, yet far from fruition.
At a recent joint Tahoe City Public Utility District and North Lake Tahoe Resort Association meeting, four design options crafted by consultants Spencer Associates Architecture and Barry Howard Limited were introduced to the public, with construction costs ranging from $4 million to $25 million.
The alternatives include a small plaza, estimated at $4-6 million; an expanded community center, estimated at $7-8 million; a small Tahoe interpretive centers, estimated at $11-13 million; or a four-story interpretive and interactive Tahoe museum and visitor center, estimated at $23-25 million.
and#8220;We want to make it clear these are just alternatives,and#8221; said TCPUD General Manager Cindy Gustafson, adding that the designs were developed with community input and a community steering committee.
Gustafson said Placer County authorized $45,000 for TCPUD to hire the consultant services.
All four plans call for demolition of the current fire station and visitor center, while two of them call for demolition and relocation of the nearby community center.
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Speaking specifically about the community center, Gustafson said a self sustaining plan is needed and the building is currently is cost-prohibitive to maintain.
and#8220;The building itself is not self-sustaining, and it’s taken more and more costs from the district to keep it up,and#8221; she said.
The PUD has invested about $50,000 a year for the last 10 years to maintain the building, she said. Apart from these costs, the PUD anticipates and#8212; if the center is kept and#8212; a new roof and siding repairs to cost an additional $100,000-$120,000, and a new heating system to cost about $15,000.
Furthermore, the building’s second floor is not accessible for disabled persons, Gustafson said, and thus unable to meet compliance to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act standard; retrofitting the building has not been calculated and and#8220;could be very, very significant.and#8221;
Adding to concerns, Gustafson said, are costs associated with the PUD managing neighboring Commons Beach. The district receives $52,000 from Placer County annually to maintain the beach, yet annual beach maintenance costs are about $132,000.
This has made it imperative for the PUD to look at operating revenue-generating concessions, such as kayak rentals and food sales, as part of the four design options, she said.
As of yet, Gustafson said no funding has been allocated or identified to fund any of the four options. Furthermore, the PUD has no desire to be the lead agency of any possible projects.
and#8220;At this point our own thought is that we are more than willing to turn it over to one of the other agencies,and#8221; Gustafson said. and#8220;There’s not a lot of funding right now, so it may take 10 years or 20 years. I don’t know how long it might take.and#8221;
District 5 Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, representing North Lake Tahoe, said she suggested a demolition of the current fire station only, and then for the community to choose an economically sound temporary solution.
and#8220;My suggestion is that the steering committee think about demolishing the building and putting something with Best Management Practices (an environmental standard by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) in there with very low maintenance,and#8221; she said.
The new $5.9 million NTFPD station and#8212; Station 51, located on Fairway Drive and#8212; is near completion, with officials anticipating keys to be turned over to NTFPD in December.
According to previous reports, the fire district has overgrown the current station, which was built in 1961 and only designed for volunteer firefighters. The new station creates a safer working environment for fire crews entering and exiting the facility since they won’t have to stop traffic passing through Tahoe City’s main street.