Park district best in state |

Park district best in state

It could have been beginner’s luck, but it was probably hard work that earned the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District two state awards this month.

For the first time in its 41-year history, the TDRPD entered among 70 other park districts in the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts’ annual awards. The accolades include best new facility in the state for River View Sports Park and best recreation and park district in the state.

The awards, said General Manager Steve Randall, are evidence of the district’s progressive and creative approach to building facilities and programs.

“I thought it was time our district as a whole received recognition for everyone’s hard work, including our staff and board and the community,” Randall said. “When I’d speak to other [recreation managers] about the creative things we’re doing, they were surprised. What they were doing every five years, we were doing on a yearly basis.”

The park district has done everything from using volunteer and in-house construction to locating obscure funding sources. For example, the recreation and park district was the first to borrow from a governmental infrastructure lending program, which provided $2 million at 2.9 percent for the second phase of River View Sports Park.

“We’re always keeping an eye out for creative solutions,” Randall said.

It may have been the sports park itself that gave the recreation and park district the edge for the outstanding district award, said Henry Agonia, executive director for the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts.

“The new park facility is outstanding. It was the clear winner out of the others … It gave the evaluators a tangible idea of what makes [Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District] an outstanding district,” Agonia said.

The California Association of Recreation and Park Districts is an organization representing 70 special recreation and park districts from Palm Springs to Shasta, Calif.

At a glance: Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District

• Established 1963

• 70 percent of the local population uses a district facility or program at least once a year

• Total budget for 03-04: $6.2 million

• The district has 22 full-time employees and as many as 100 seasonal employees during peak seasons

• Facilities include two community centers, rodeo arena, ice skating rink, BMX track, indoor swimming pool and 35 public piers on Donner Lake.

Creative routes expand the district

1994: Bought the Veteran’s Building from Nevada County for $1 after county said it was going to demolish the 6,000-square-foot facility.

1996: TDRPD was one of the first recreation districts in the state to institute a fee under the Mitigation Fee Act. The district earns more than $250,000 each year for the fee.

1997: The district is paid $50,000 to move a 3,000-square-foot house from Lake Tahoe to Truckee. The Truckee Donner Public Utility District installed solar energy panels and ground source heating on the house as a model for the community, which cuts the TDRPD’s energy bill by 75 percent each year. The house now serves as the Teen Center.

1998: Built the second park district skate park in the state. The district struck a deal with the contractor and paid $170,000 for the park rather than the $270,000 market rate.

1999: Built a handicap accessible fishing pier at Donner Lake with a $131,000 grant from the Department of Fish and Game.

2000: More than 100 community volunteers construct an 18-hole disc golf course, costing the district $15,000 total. The district would have paid an estimated $60,000 if a contractor did the job.

2001: District builds its outdoor ice rink with parts from ice rinks that had closed around North America.

2002: District uses $900,000 of mitigation fees to build phase one of the River View Sports Park. The Truckee Sanitary District donated the 30 acres of land, valued at $1 million, to TDRPD at no cost.

Today: District continues its negotiations with East West Partners and the Town of Truckee to acquire the 14-acre commercial triangle to build a community center. The Truckee Tahoe Airport’s Land Use Compatibility Plan’s construction and occupancy limitations may limit the realization of this goal.

[Information comes from the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District and Sierra Sun staff reports.]

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