Truckee weighs initial options for West River Street revitalization |

Truckee weighs initial options for West River Street revitalization

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunSoil cleanup equipment sits on the former equipment yard site on West River Street Tuesday afternoon. The town will be looking for public input on making the lot a community plaza in the coming months.

TRUCKEE and#8212; Right now, businesses along the Truckee River resemble an industrial past.

But where auto repair shops, building supply yards and fuel depots stand today, town planners envision an extension of downtown, taking advantage of more modern uses for the river that involve recreation and scenery.

One of the key elements of an effort to revitalize that area is a 1.4-acre site on the corner of West River Street and Riverside Drive, a former county equipment yard the town sees as a public plaza, said David Griffith, redevelopment and housing coordinator for the Truckee.

and#8220;Staff decided it was time to attempt to move forward with that redevelopment site,and#8221; Griffith said. and#8220;We’re applying for a State Community Development Block Grant for planning technical assistance, for $70,000.and#8221;

That money, along with $14,000 in matching funds from the redevelopment agency, would hire a consultant to start up a process much like that happening in Brickelltown right now and#8212; public workshops to create a vision for an improved parcel, he said.

Once the town and the public help shape a plan, the consultant will do an economic viability study, to see if it pencils out, Griffith said.

and#8220;If we issue a (request for proposal) in December we expect to have a consultant by the end of January, then we start a several-month process for the public to create a detailed vision,and#8221; Griffith said.

At the same time, a petroleum-contaminated plume of groundwater extending from across the street at the Chevron and former Berry-Hinckley Industries building has to be cleaned up, he said, an effort already under way and expected to take two more years.

and#8220;The latest we’ve heard is that the remediation effort is working,and#8221; Griffith said of the clean-up effort being funded by Chevron.

Beyond the 1.4-acre property, the townand#8217;s vision for West River Street requires some of the industrial uses to move to new places, like the Pioneer Commerce Center north of downtown, said John McLaughlin, community development director for the town.

But that would be a tough sell in this economic climate, McLaughlin said.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s a hard time for businesses … with the economy as it is everybody is hunkered down to weather the storm, so there are challenges there,and#8221; he said, talking about costs of moving a business.

Robert Helvey of North Star Lighting on West River Street said he can see the pros and cons for the town plan.

and#8220;Everybody is already here, so to move is going to cost money,and#8221; Helvey said. and#8220;Yeah, it would be cool to walk through town and go to the river, but it all takes money.and#8221;

Previously, the Auto and Tire Doctor moved from West River Street into the Pioneer Center, and Shaffer Paving moved to Glenshire Drive.

The town planning commission also has approved a move for Dependable Tow from West River to Pioneer as well, McLaughlin said.

But it may take financial assistance of some kind in the future to complete the transition, McLaughlin said, which hasnand#8217;t yet been defined by the town.

and#8220;We see things being more compatible with downtown, things that draw more people with retail or services and#8212; not necessarily automotive but on a pedestrian scale, that will be more lively for the public,and#8221; McLaughlin said.

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