Railyard approval draws public support … mostly
June 18, 2009
TRUCKEE and#8212; An odd thing happened Wednesday night at town hall; the audience that made it through four hours of meeting applauded at the unanimous approval of a development project.
But the Railyard has been a different kind of development, one the public has been involved in for more than 10 years and#8212; longer than the developers (Holliday Development) themselves.
and#8220;It’s been said this is Mr. Holliday’s project, it’s not Mr. Holliday’s project, it’s the town’s project,and#8221; said Mark Tanner, a property owner on East River Street.
Around 100 people packed the room for Wednesday’s meeting and#8212; sitting on the floor and spilling out into the hallway and#8212; and the majority that spoke supported the 75-acre project planned east of downtown.
and#8220;You are supported by virtually all the fathers and mothers of the community,and#8221; said Jim Simon, attorney with Porter Simon, and went on to list many other groups including the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, the Truckee Donner Historical Society, and other individuals and businesses that voiced their support.
That list included every living mayor of Truckee.
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and#8220;I see this project as the most opportunity to come before the town in many decades,and#8221; wrote Kathleen Eagan, the first mayor of Truckee, in a letter read Wednesday night by another former mayor, Maia Schneider.
And the project drew comments of support from folks who don’t often voice their opinions at town hall, ranging from Art Chapman, president of JMA Ventures (owner of Homewood and Alpine Meadows), to J.D. Hoss of 101.5 FM radio.
and#8220;This is the right project in the right place at the right time,and#8221; said Steve Frisch, president of the Sierra Business Council.
Siobhan Smart, representing the Friends of Truckee, accompanied by two attorneys, reiterated their concerns with the project, and laid out the areas the group would challenge the project in a lawsuit.
and#8220;Although you have enormous support for your project here, we have received over 1,000 responses,and#8221; Smart said.
Truckee Resident Jamie Brimer said he had concerns as well, shared with the Friends of Truckee over the realignment of Donner Pass Road through the Railyard project.
and#8220;I’m not trying to kill the project, I think it’s a good project, I’m just asking he leaves Donner Pass Road the way it is,and#8221; Brimer said.
Many of those who spoke in favor of the project challenged the Friends of Truckee, however.
and#8220;To the so-called and self proclaimed Friends of Truckee … it is my belief you are few in your view … and I’ll ask for your support as well,and#8221; said Ted Owens, a former mayor of Truckee and current Nevada County supervisor.
and#8220;Friends of Truckee has a nice ring to it but is sort of a misnomer,and#8221; said Mike Dunsford, a Truckee resident.
In fact while the Friends of Truckee challenged the project for it’s removal of an historic railroad building and its ties to the restoration of Trout Creek, groups like the Truckee Donner Railroad Society and the Truckee River Watershed Council voiced their support of the Railyard.
Lisa Wallace, executive director of the watershed council, said the suit could actually hurt the Trout Creek restoration effort.
and#8220;We have critical funding in place now and it of course has an expiration date,and#8221; Wallace said.
Ultimately, project owner Rick Holliday said he was ready to weather a legal storm.
and#8220;We will prevail and we will bring you this project to you,and#8221; Holliday said.