State senator tours Truckee’s headaches
During his one-day visit to Truckee, State Senator Rico Oller got a tour of Truckee’s recent headaches – the Mousehole, the mill site, and the propane leak site.
Hoping to put a little pressure on various entities, Mayor Ted Owens, along with other Truckee officials, invited Oller up the hill for a discussion of the things on Truckee government’s to-do list.
Following the discovery of a propane leak at the Donner Pass Road AmeriGas station that may have released 22,000 gallons of propane into surrounding soil, Oller’s office began an analysis of existing regulations on the substance.
“It’s kind of amazing, just from a pure economic standpoint…that you didn’t realize you had lost 22,000 gallons of a product that’s so valuable to you,” Oller said.
At this point, Oller said he has no idea if any sort of legislation will come out of the Donner Incident.
“So many times…we create legislation for a particular problem,” he said. “We want to be careful to target that problem specifically. There is a ton of regulation on business already.”
He said, at this point, it’s hard to tell if Truckee’s propane leak – which closed down businesses, Sierra Mountain Middle School and a portion of Truckee’s main road – was a “freakish occurrence,” or if it’s something that’s happened elsewhere. Whatever government action comes out of the incident, Oller said he hopes it doesn’t create any unintended consequences.
Oller also discussed projects he’s seen accomplished on brownfield sites, like the Mill site near downtown. The town of Truckee recently received a $350,000 grant to evaluate the site for future development.
“The beauty of taking a brownfield is you take a site that may or may not be [contaminated] and try to get something of value, instead of taking a greenfield,” Oller said.
Although the land is currently owned by Union Pacific railroad, officials hope the railroad will realize the value and potential of the property.
“[Union Pacific] will do what’s in their economic interests,” Oller said, pointing out that the railroad’s economic interests and those of the town may not conflict. “I can assure you that’s one of the most valuable pieces of property in the state.”
Oller said often times the environmental requirements for a brownfield site can be more problematic than ownership.
The government often times requires an “absurd” level of cleanup for the use of a brownfield, whether the site is truly contaminated or not, Oller said.
“I suspect that it’s probably clean as a whistle, but because industry was there, it will have to go through a remediation effort,” he said.
Working with Union Pacific on the Mousehole project, Oller said, will not be a problem. Truckee officials, thought, are worried about funding, and hope that Oller may be able to put pressure on the appropriate agencies when the time is right.
“There are no construction dollars right now,” said Town Manager Steve Wright. “We hope we can get a federal earmark (for more funds).”
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