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Train station; Chamber rails against depot’s proposed closing

DAN FOSCALINA and ERICK STUDENICKA

Nevada County’s recent decision to close Truckee’s train depot by Nov. 1 raised the ire of town officials, residents and business owners.

Truckee-Donner Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rachelle Pellissier, speaking on behalf of more than 325 area businesses and the chamber’s board of directors, said closing the depot will negatively impact Truckee economically, socially, environmentally and historically.

“The results of this decision will be the unavailability of downtown visitor services, the lack of transit facilities for Amtrak and Greyhound travelers to disembark in Truckee, the displacement of a local travel agency and the closure of a historically significant building in the middle of downtown Truckee,” she said in a press release distributed this week. “All of which will have tremendously detrimental economic impacts on the businesses and residents of Truckee.”

Supervisors’ decision

At their regular meeting Aug. 5, Nevada County Supervisors voted 4-1 to shut down the Truckee intermodal station and issued eviction notices to the four tenants in a move to alleviate budgetary woes. Fifth District Supervisor Sam Dardick, who represents Truckee, was the dissenting vote.

With several projects topping the county’s priority list for the year, the $148,000 it has left in the contingency fund budget is forcing supervisors to scale back departmental budgets, Dardick said. Caught on the chopping block is the intermodal station, which runs up a $39,000 maintenance bill each year while taking in about $29,000, he said.

Basically, the revenue the station brings in is not covering county expenditures to keep it open and maintained, Dardick explained.

Town Manager Steve Wright said councilmembers have been negotiating with Nevada County to take control of the depot since incorporation in 1992. One of the town’s main concerns centered on possible soil contamination at the depot – the town didn’t want to buy the property if the soil was polluted.

A soils analysis came back negative and the two sides were close to an agreement, but negotiations halted when Truckee filed suit in 1996 against the county regarding allocation of the depot’s property taxes, Wright said.

The town estimated in 1996 Truckee should be receiving a extra $500,000 per year in property taxes collected by the county. The revenue discrepancy is retroactive and the town seeks the $500,000 for each year since incorporation.

As a result, Nevada County amended the agreement for the purchase of the depot to include a contingency provision – should the town prevail in the lawsuit, the county receives a $650,000 credit toward the property tax money that would be awarded in the lawsuit. Wright said the $650,000 is merely an arbitrary value the county attributes to the depot facility.

Negotiations ceased after councilmembers found the county’s amended agreement unacceptable, Wright said.

Meanwhile, the county is trying to find someone to take over the station. The Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District board will discuss tonight a county offer to lease the building for $1 annually.

“Basically, I’m just telling the board members where it stands,” TDRPD General Manager Steve Randall said. “Because the county and town are involved in a lawsuit over taxes, (the county) has offered it to us.”

Randall added, “If it’s in the best interest of the town, we will probably take it.”

Acknowledging the $10,000 annual loss associated with operating the depot, Randall said the district will meet with members of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association and town officials to identify ways to offset deficit.

Truckee Town Manager Steve Wright said the know is aware the TDRPD is trying to work out a sublease agreement with the county. “We are working with (Randall) on that.”

TDMA President Ed Candler said he is meeting with the chamber of commerce, TDRPD and the town next week. “The depot is crucial for the Town of Truckee,” he said.


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