From the town’s perspective, it was a very good year
Each year, as a town government, we take a look back on the preceding year not only to let you know what was accomplished, but also to help make plans for the coming year.
All of our personal recollections on 2001 will likely focus on the Sept. 11 tragedy, but in Truckee the Town Council had lots of issues “on their plate” that affect locals and tourists alike. From a town perspective, it was a very good year!
The single most visible activity was the September 1st start-up of Truckee’s new Police Department. That event was preceded by a year’s worth of hectic activity to be prepared for that day. Also in 2001, the Council settled two significant law suits with Nevada County ending years of conflict that went back to our original incorporation. We spent over $3 million for road paving and preventive maintenance; adopted a new woodstove change out program; reached a final agreement with CalTrans on the 267/I-80 ramps; and adopted a new 5 Year Capital Improvement Program.
The Council has two top priorities D affordable housing and historic preservation. In 2001, significant activity has occurred in both areas.
On the housing front, the Council has initiated a Housing Needs Assessment study to assure that we focus on this community’s most important needs first. They have also agreed to revisit the Town’s General Plan Housing Element which has not been modified since it was adopted in 1996. That effort will be initiated in June and should take about 18 months to complete.
Recent success in the affordable housing arena relates to actual new housing units on the ground. Sierra Village on Highway 267 opened their doors in October adding 56 new affordable units and 16 market rate units in Truckee. The Town was able to obtain a $1 million grant to help make this project possible. There is already a waiting list for this project. The Riverview Village project was also completed this year creating an additional 39 units.
The Council also approved several other housing projects that will be constructed next year which have a required affordable housing component in each.
Maintaining downtown Truckee’s historic character remains a significant issue for the Town Council.
In 2001, the Council took the next step in being able to have much of the downtown designated an historical landmark by both the State and Federal government. This designation will create new opportunities for private property owners to access possible funding and tax credits that will allow them to maintain and upgrade their properties to retain their historic relevance. In August, the Council retained a consultant to conduct the required detailed historic resources inventory to allow us to take the next steps towards this historic designation. The process will likely take another nine months to complete and near the end there will be a series of neighborhood and town-wide meetings to involve property owners and the general public in the numerous decisions that will need to be made.
The Town Council has continued to represent Truckee citizens on both a regional and statewide basis. They have consistently made comments on growth-related activities occurring in the Martis Valley south of the town limits. Issues like Placer County’s update of the Martis Valley Plan and the Village at Northstar project will affect Truckee citizens and the Council has made it a point to have their voices heard on these issues.
They have also worked with the Donner Lake citizens committee and the PUD to urge a resolution to the Donner Lake water crisis; lobbied the State to finalize the Bypass ramp issues; renegotiated a State CDF Wildlands fire protection agreement; and continued to press the State to relocate the Agricultural Inspection Station on I-80 to a site east of downtown.
The Town’s fiscal health continued to remain strong through 2001. The growth in property tax revenues may slow somewhat in the coming year due to the slowing of the real estate market, but retail sales and visitor lodging revenues have remained vibrant. The Council expanded its agreement with the Chamber of Commerce to provide enhanced visitor information and community promotion services for the next three years. The only storm clouds on the horizon could rest with the current State revenue shortfall. If past history is any indication, they could again try to balance their budget by taking local government revenues. Only time will tell.
Finally, issues of both the quality and quantity of growth are significantly impacting this community. The Council has made great efforts to create opportunities for citizens to comment and provide input on the numerous growth issues before us.
More of those opportunities will present themselves in the coming year and I urge you to take advantage of them. The Council really does listen and your comments do make a difference D but only if you make them. Take advantage of the opportunity.
Overall, 2001 was another great year for Truckee. Later this month the Council will meet for a two-day session to discuss goals and priorities for the coming year. My next column will talk about their vision for the immediate future.
It should be another good year!
Stephen L. Wright is the town manager for the Town of Truckee. He can be reached at 582-7700.