Residents tour Crystal Bay casino project site | SierraSun.com

Residents tour Crystal Bay casino project site

Annie Flanzraich
Sun News Service

For a year the proposed Boulder Bay project in Crystal Bay has been described in a myriad of numbers ” on Wednesday afternoon about 25 people attended a site walk-through with the developers to see what those numbers could realistically mean.

“One reason we wanted to do a site tour was to make sure people had a real orientation of the site,” said Boulder Bay Project Manager Brian Helm.

Boulder Bay is a proposed development including a hotel, condominiums, workforce housing, meeting space, retail, dining, a spa and gaming on the Tahoe Biltmore and former Tahoe Mariner sites.

Walk-through attendees followed Helm, Boulder Bay CEO Roger Wittenberg and project architect Phil Gilanfarr through different areas of the proposed development. At different points, one of the project’s principles would explain the height of a possible building, the slope of a suggested road, or where buildings would be constructed.

It also included a description of what would be developed on the former Tahoe Mariner location if two legal agreements regarding the site are amended by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and California. The proposed development on the Mariner site includes 32 condominiums and a portion of Building C. The building is planned to include tourist accommodation units, a spa, meeting space, a lobby and dining. The 32-condominium units would also have underground parking.

Changes to the agreements, made in 1981 and 2001, would have to go through a number of processes. Changes to the 2001 agreement with TRPA would required public comment and TRPA Governing Board approval. Changes to the 1981 agreement and its two subsequent amendments would have to be worked out with the TRPA and the California Attorney General’s Office.

After the walk-through, another community meeting was held in the Biltmore where attendees were broken into three break-out groups and posed the question, “what would you build if you were the developer?”

“I’m not certain we’ve been good listeners,” Wittenberg said about the format and goal of the meeting.

While some attendees were upset with the break-out format, Streamline Counseling Group, a Truckee-based company working with Boulder Bay to gather community input, said it encouraged some people to speak out.

“You actually get more ideas in smaller groups than in larger groups,” said Seana Doherty with Streamline. “There are some people who don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas in larger groups.”

Some of the ideas that were shared revolved around creating a community center, focusing on multi-modal transportation to and from the site, eliminating or limiting timeshare development, altering road design and slope, and decreasing the size of the proposed project.

“I think they’re overbuilding it by about 50 percent,” said Rick Lambretti, an Incline Village resident.

However some attendees said they did not have any major issues with the proposed development.

“We think it’s a good thing for the Crystal Bay community and it’s a chance for us to have a town center,” said Alice Bauer, a Crystal Bay resident.

Their comments and others will be incorporated into the project’s environmental impact statement study, Helm said. In August, the TRPA Advisory Planning Committee held a public scoping hearing for the project’s EIS, which will be researched and written by the independent firm, Hauge Brueck Associates.

Helm said many of the options suggested, including a scale-back of the development, intense public transportation and limiting or eliminating timeshares are not off the table in the developer’s mind.

“There are a number of different ways we are going to look at that,” Helm said. “We’re at this point where the TRPA and the EIS consultant are going to be defining project alternatives. Those then go into the process and you really measure what the impact is. It’s a process where you pick out some different alternatives that will speak to those concerns and then we evaluate them at the end of the day.”

Boulder Bay’s next major public meeting will be Oct. 7 when a projected road redesign will be presented to the Washoe County Planning Commission.