A college blooms this spring on McIver Hill | SierraSun.com

A college blooms this spring on McIver Hill

Frank DeCourten and Dave FerrariOur Turn

Even as the final winter storms pass through the northern Sierra Nevada, each spring day brings a little more sunlight and warmth to melt away the blanket of floral slumber that has covered our area since October. Soon, patches of moist soil will appear from the dwindling snow pack on the south-facing slopes of local hills. Almost overnight, as soon as soil conditions are right, the wildflowers will explode into the annual cacophony of color that heralds the end of winter. On McIver Hill in downtown Truckee, however, more than wildflowers will blossom this Spring. For the first time in our history, a permanent college campus will begin to emerge in the Tahoe-Truckee region.The seeds for the Truckee campus of Sierra College were planted on November 2, 2004, when nearly 70 percent of local voters voted for Measure H. Since that time college officials have been busy behind the scenes completing the legal groundwork required for the sale of public bonds and the purchase of the property. The college now has title to the 73-acre parcel and, in partnership with the Truckee Donner Land Trust, we are very close to finalizing the details of the conservation easement that will protect much of the hill from development. A local Citizens Oversight Committee has now been established to oversee the expenditure of public funds once the campus construction begins. Over the next few months the focus of our efforts will shift to the design of the campus and preparations for construction, which we hope will be completed by late 2008.After a thorough process of proposal evaluation and review, Sierra College has selected the Lionakis-Beaumont Design Group as the Truckee campus designers and architects. Several meetings have already been held with the architects to review the project budget and to plan the design work. Between now and the end of 2005 we will be holding several community meetings and workshops to solicit input on the campus design project. We will also engage town officials, public agencies, and other stakeholders in the process. Our goal is to develop a college campus that is not merely functional and attractive, but is also respectful of local values, culture, and traditions. To do that it is essential that local citizens be actively involved in the design process. Together we can realize the dream of a college campus situated on a touchstone piece of property that serves as a source of community pride and identity.Though Sierra College has been providing educational services to the Tahoe-Truckee region for more than three decades, a permanent Truckee campus has long been the dream of residents, community leaders, and college officials. We encourage all citizens to join us this spring and summer in helping to define and implement a campus design that meets the needs of the region, protects our natural heritage, respects community values, and enhances learning opportunities for all of us. This year, the spring season brings a new dimension of renewal and rebirth to the Truckee region. Sierra College renews its commitment to providing quality services to the people of the Tahoe-Truckee region through the development of the permanent campus. Like the wildflowers on McIver Hill, a new era of educational opportunity is soon to blossom. We are excited about the campus project and eager to move forward in fulfilling our responsibility to the people that make our region such a special place. We are grateful for the strong support Sierra College has received from local citizens and hope you will join us in the design process when it commences this spring. Frank DeCourten is the Sierra College interim vice president, educational programs & services. Dave Ferrari is a Sierra College Trustee.

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