Residents voice concerns on potential sale of Truckee Veterans Hall
TRUCKEE, Calif. – Public access to the Rocking Stone, a potential increase in traffic and snowmelt runoff were among concerns residents voiced last week regarding the potential sale of the iconic Veterans Hall Building overlooking downtown Truckee.The building, located at 10214 High St., has been owned by the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District since 1994. In November 2011, the district was approached by Tahoe Forest Church about the possibility of renting the building, said district General Manager Steve Randall.Once the church learned it would have to develop parking, as indicated by the town of Truckee – a project that could cost approximately $125,000 to $150,000 – the church was then interested in purchasing the facility, Randall told approximately 15 attendees at last Thursday’s Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District’s board meeting.”We’ve been looking for a permanent home for a number of years,” said Mike Sampson, pastor and founder of the Tahoe Forest Church, in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s been a difficult journey finding an adequate building and space.”The church was located in the Glenshire Elementary School gymnasium for about 10 years before moving to its current location at The Rock complex at 11209 Brockway Road about two years ago, he said.”It’s (the Veterans Hall) just available space that’s adequate to meet our needs,” Sampson said. The Veterans Hall, which has two floors, features amenities such as classrooms/meeting rooms, a kitchen, an indoor gymnasium with stage and restrooms with showers. The building’s indoor recreational space was why the district decided to purchase it back in 1994 from Nevada County for $1, Randall said.Since, however, the Truckee Community Recreation Center has opened, no organized veteran groups have existed in town for nearly a decade and the facility gets limited community use while accruing an annual loss of $20,000 for the district, Randall said.”I am concerned about this (money) loss,” board director Kristin York said last Thursday. “Our duty as a board is fiduciary, but our other duty is to represent the public.”
Eight meeting attendees addressed the board on the potential sale, while several others who weren’t able to attend the meeting had submitted letters.”My specific concern is the future status of the Rocking Stone, the gazebo and public access to the Rocking Stone and gazebo that are on the site,” Steve Frisch, executive director of the Sierra Business Council, told the board. “My understanding is that they are on the same parcel that the Veterans Building is. I would respectively request that the … board consider doing a parcel split before releasing this site.”Frisch also touched upon the hall’s historical status.Construction of the building was completed in November 1939 after it was first proposed in June 1937 by members of the Truckee American Legion Post 439, according to a handout Randall gave the audience.”The building is not counted as an historical building … although it is in the historical district,” Randall said.Richard Grow, who lives on Keiser Avenue, adjacent to High Street, voiced concerns regarding traffic and parking.”We more than have our share of traffic and parking problems as it is,” he said. “Just the town events that take place … our neighborhood becomes a parking area, which is going to happen no matter what, but aggravating that with additional traffic is not something we’re looking forward to at all.”High Street resident John Reedy agreed.”I wasn’t sure if my street was going to be closed at the church location as it guns around the horseshoe bend there, but that is the safest way to access our neighborhood in the wintertime,” he said. “Anything that would affect that would adversely affect the community. Not to mention also concerns about parking, adding another parking lot is not really my idea of what our downtown community should look like.”In a letter to the board read aloud by York, High Street resident Knox Miller wrote about snowmelt runoff concerns.”Currently, there is a problem each spring with snowmelt runoff saturating my basement and eroding my property,” Miller wrote. “Adding any additional impermeable surfaces directly upslope and adjacent to my property are of great concern to me. It is critical that a detailed drainage plan, with computations, be provided that show what the additional runoff will be and how it will be adequately transported to the public storm sewer system during all weather conditions.”The three board members present at the meeting – York, Director Janet Brady and Vice Chairman Kevin Murphy – all thanked those who commented on the issue. “Public input is critical in the public process, especially from our standpoint,” Murphy said. “Without verbal input, we have a tendency to get it wrong, (so with it), it helps to get things right.”
During the meeting, Randall repeatedly said the board wouldn’t be taking any action on the issue that night.”This item is meant to be informational tonight,” he said. “It wasn’t meant to have any action associated with it. Action on this would potentially come after the town planning commission has their public hearing on the conditional use permit.”Whether Tahoe Forest Church purchases or leases the building, it must obtain a conditional use permit from the town. There is also a right-of-way abandonment request for parking lot needs, said Jenna Endres, associate planner for the town of Truckee’s Planning Division.As for when the planning commission will hold a public hearing on the church’s application, that is yet to be determined, she said.”It probably won’t be known (when) for a couple of weeks,” Endres said. In the meantime, an appraisal of the Veterans Hall and the lot across the street is scheduled to start the middle of this month, officials said, with results likely becoming available in the first week of November.
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