Creating a new center and more for Truckee | SierraSun.com
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Creating a new center and more for Truckee

The Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District is in the process of designing a new community/cultural center for Truckee. This facility is greatly needed as we can no longer accommodate all the requests for indoor space.Management, staff and the board of directors have been working on this project for two years. I would like to take this opportunity to bring the community up to date on the planning process and dispel any misunderstandings or misconceptions.Our first step was to hold community meetings to gather input on the types of facilities that the community wanted. The district held four public meetings with special interest groups and public. A variety of possibilities were identified. The next step was to determine the best location for the proposed center. The district hired a consultant who facilitated two public meetings. In these meetings the public identified 13 sites in and around Truckee as potential places for the facility. Included were the old middle school and the old mill sites. The public, along with the consultant, developed criteria to evaluate the proposed sites. The criteria were size/configuration; central location; availability; cost and compatibility with the Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Plan; retains existing desirable uses; compatibility with the General Plan; environmental constraints; availability of utilities; and compatibility with adjacent land uses. The only site to meet all of the criteria was the 14 acre triangular property located at the junction of Donner Pass Road, State Highway 89, 267 Bypass and I-80. This land was donated to the town by a developer and in turn (after many public meetings by the town on its General Plan update) donated to TDRPD. The district feels that the Triangle is an outstanding location, centrally located to all the subdivisions old and new in the community, and is easily accessed. One issue that the public raised regarding the Triangle is that it is in the airport flight zone. Because of this major concern, the district appeared before the Foothill Airport Land Use Commission to discuss building the center there. The commission, which has jurisdiction over land use in a flight path zone, approved the site because: The property is surrounded by flat, straight freeways and highways where a pilot would attempt to land if an off-runway landing were required; Any large crowds would be in the evenings when flights over Truckee are significantly decreased; Greatest utilization of the new center is the six months of the year during late fall and winter when air traffic is at a low point. The other six months the majority of district programs are at outdoor facilities; Over the last ten years large gatherings at the current community center equate to about 15 hours per year during the winter months and at night, when there is typically little flight traffic; The facility will be surrounded by full-grown pine trees 65 to 75 feet in height. The site is heavily wooded and the buffer will be as wide as 500 feet of forest; The site is approximately 7,500 feet from the airport runway. Many of the planes turn west immediately upon lift off because they follow the freeway, thus reducing the trips over the area in question; Large childrens events are usually held at the schools and not at the Community Center; The new building will be designed using the latest architectural standards taking into consideration airport safety concerns. For the above mentioned reasons it was the Foothill Airport Land Use Commissions ruling, from a risk assessment standpoint, that this location was and is acceptable for a community center.

Our next step was to hire a firm to complete the environmental documentation for the site. A company was hired and is working on the environmental report. The community will have a chance to comment on this report once its completed. Additionally, the district has hired an architectural firm to develop the schematic design for the new center. The design work should be completed around the end of September.As previously noted, the board of directors of the district has taken into account all of the public comment and has determined that the building will have four major components: Indoor sports complex, aquatic center, performing arts center, and community meeting rooms. The district hopes to begin construction on the first phase of the project in the spring/summer of 2006. That includes the indoor sports complex and, if the district can acquire private donations to help with the construction cost, a performing arts center. Traditionally, a performing arts center is not a recreation and park function. The board feels a performing arts center is needed in the community, and if the district doesnt step up to the plate it is unlikely to happen.The second phase of the project will be the aquatic center. This water park will be much more than a traditional swimming pool with lap lanes. There will be water slides, a wave pool, a therapy pool and other fun recreational elements. Our research has shown that an aquatic center with these facilities is incredibly popular in communities throughout the country.Community meeting rooms and offices will be constructed in the final stage. Once these are constructed our current community center would be available to house a larger library. The district has discussed this possibility with the Truckee Library and Nevada County.The Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District has been on the cutting edge of building new facilities and implementing new programs for the community for years. This is evidenced by the award of Best Recreation and Park District in the State of California for 2004. The district adopted a philosophy about ten years ago that we wouldnt limit our focus to the traditional team sports. We decided to put an emphasis on non-traditional sports as well. To this end the district built a skate park, outdoor ice rink, disc golf course, BMX track, and this summer plans to build three bocce ball courts at River View Sports Park. We did, however, see the need for more turf areas to accommodate our traditional sports. In 2003, we built a four field sports complex, which received the award for best new facility in California for 2004. All the facilities were built by staff, with grants, volunteer labor, or through creative financing. The district is very excited about the new Community/Cultural Center project and welcomes any input from the community. The board of directors meets on the second Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Community Center.Steve Randall is the general manager of the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District.


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