My Turn: New era for our eastern gateway to Tahoe |

My Turn: New era for our eastern gateway to Tahoe

For years, the trip into Kings Beach from Stateline began with the view of two abandoned and dilapidated buildings at the intersection of Highway 28 and Chipmunk. Like two tired sentries, these former gas station sites provided a wary welcome to visitors and residents alike. To add to this gloomy reception, both properties have soil contamination and contribute to the pollution of Lake Tahoe.

This gateway entrance has made a sorry commentary about not only the community, but the entrance to California, as well. There was little to be proud of.

That’s all about to change.

The Placer County Redevelopment Agency has taken on the challenge and is working with other agencies and departments to create an eastern gateway that will make us all proud. This eastern gateway in Kings Beach is a critical anchor in the community’s overall revitalization. As with any real estate, first impressions make a big difference. The agency has a strategy to kick start the revitalization of Kings Beach with the demolition of the boarded up gas stations as the first of many steps to build back a vital community.

In September of 2005, the agency initiated steps under the Redevelopment Polanco Act to clean up the former Swiss Mart site. This act gives redevelopment agencies the authority to either order, or undertake the cleanup of sites within redevelopment areas. The act also provides redevelopment agencies, and their lenders, with immunity from being required by state or local environmental agencies to do further environmental work on properties that have been cleaned under the act. The agency acquired title to the property in November 2006, and is now able to proceed with an expeditious plan to clean the site in partnership with Placer County Environmental Health Services and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

To further strengthen efforts to redevelop in the Kings Beach eastern gateway area, this April, the agency also acquired title to the former Chevron gas station located directly across the street from the Swiss Mart site.

In the coming weeks, both buildings are scheduled to be demolished and remediation of the underground contamination will kick into gear.

Soon the former Swiss Mart site will contain a beautiful monument sign that will mark not only the entrance into Kings Beach but the start of an era of public investment that will ensure the vitality and sustainability of this key community.

Coupled with the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, Kings Beach is primed for new energy. Placer County is keeping its commitment to improving the communities on the North Shore through the efforts of its agency and the support of its residents and stakeholders.

The agency is focused in the next months on cleaning the properties. After that they will become key components in the development of an upgraded eastern gateway.

So, great things are happening in Kings Beach. The community will reemerge as not only a great place to live and do business, but will be an example of what can happen with targeted activities and coordination of resources. If you happen to notice the work that is taking place at this eastern entrance to Kings Beach, think of this column as a heads up. If you don’t regularly get to this end of the county, stop and visit a while you’re in Kings Beach.

If you should have any questions regarding the demolitions, please contact Michele Perez or Steve Brown, Placer County Senior Redevelopment Specialists at 745-3150.

Rich Colwell serves as the Chief Assistant County Executive Officer and Redevelopment Director for Placer County.

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