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Creating a cultural center for Truckee

Peter WerbelMy Turn

As you have probably heard or read in the newspaper, the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District is planning a new community/cultural arts center for the Truckee Donner community. The districts board of directors and staff have been working on this for over two years. In 1996 the board identified two areas that needed to be addressed in order to keep up with projected growth for the area.The first was outdoor field space. The second was indoor space. In 2002 the district completed a 32-acre park (land donated to the district by the Truckee Sanitary District) that has four ballfields. These should cover the communitys need for field space for 15 to 20 years. The fields were built with grants ($500,000 from the State of California), creative financing and general fund revenues. These fields, known as Riverview Sports Park, were awarded the best new park facility in the state by the California Association of Recreation & Park Districts.With the weather we experience during the late fall, winter and spring, indoor space is very important to this community. During the last 20 years the town has grown tremendously. In 1986 the population of Truckee was 6,000. Our population now is 17,000 and growing every day. We cannot currently provide enough indoor space for the needs of the community. With new subdivisions being planned, growth will only continue. Its important for us to attempt to keep up with this growth, and plan new facilities accordingly. To this end the district has been planning a new community/cultural center. Id like to bring you up to date on the process we have conducted to this point. The districts first step was to hold public meetings to determine the types of facilities the community wanted. We conducted three workshops inviting the public, special interest, and community groups. Next a phone and written survey was conducted to gather further input from the community. The information from these meetings and the survey was used to determine the types of facilities that we should be planning for the new center. We did another study, again conducting three public meetings, on the best place to locate this center. The district looked at 13 possible sites including the old middle school (not available because the school district has future plans for the building) and the old mill site, where no land was available. The district picked the triangle site located on Highway 89 north, across the street from Coachland and just a short distance from the new middle school. This property was chosen because its centrally located and was determined to be the best location for a new community/cultural center. The district then began negotiations with the owner, who generously donated the property to the community. Its a 14-acre parcel that has been assessed at over $2 million. There was one major issue concerning this site. Its located two miles from the airport. The district therefore went before the Airport Land Use Commission. After an in-depth review by the commission and their risk management professionals, we received approval to build a community center on this land. The Recreation and Park District then hired an architectural firm to develop a master plan. This plan has now been completed and we are ready to present it to you, the community, through public meetings, and gather further input. The master plan is the dream. We realize that we cannot build the entire center at this time (unless an angel appears), but wanted a vision and plan for the future. Currently the facilities envisioned in this new community/cultural center include a two-court gymnasium, indoor running track, aquatic center, community meeting rooms and a performing arts center.We have heard for many years and from many people that we need a performing arts center in the community. Although this typically isnt a function of parks and recreation, we felt if we didnt step up to the plate, it wouldnt be built in the foreseeable future. Therefore weve hired a consultant to develop a business plan in the hopes that private funding can be raised for this needed amenity. Public meetings are presently being held on the performing arts center. Anyone interested is invited to attend. If you would like further information please contact the district at 582-7720 or steve@tdrpd.com.Funding, of course, is a major issue in attempting to build this center. With mitigation fees (fees from new development) and general fund money we hope to build phase 1, which at this point is the two-court gymnasium. Subsequent phases will be built as money becomes available. Well be looking for grants (the district has already been awarded $500,000 for the first phase), mitigation fees from future development, general fund revenues, and private funding. Well also ask the community to vote on a bond, for further funding. As stated previously the district is looking for private monies for the major funding of the performing arts center component.The board is always seeking input from the community. Board meetings are held on the second Thursday of every month, beginning at 6 p.m. in the community center. The public is encouraged to provide comments and opinions and is always welcome.Peter Werbel is chairman of the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park Districts board of directors. My Turn is a guest column open to readers of the Sierra Sun. Send submissions to editor@sierrasun.com.


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