TAHOE CITY, Calif. — More than 60 residents, taxpayers and golfers gathered Tuesday at the Tahoe City Public Utility District to discuss the future of the Tahoe City Golf Course and share their voice on planning for the future use of the property.
In September 2011, the utility district went into escrow with the Bechdolt family to purchase the golf course for $5 million. The goal, said TCPUD General Manager Cindy Gustafson, is to provide additional public recreation and open space to help maintain Tahoe City’s high quality of life and promote economic vitality, provide opportunity for a potential site for a domestic water treatment facility and provide the community with additional publicly held water rights.
The district has yet to finalize the acquisition, but the intent is to operate as a golf course for the short term while examining long-term proposals for usage and determining the community’s desired outcome, Gustafson said.
The majority of community members on Tuesday expressed support of the acquisition, conceding that public procurement could allow for increased recreational opportunities, including possible year-round operations such as an ice skating rink, Nordic center and/or winter trail system.
In addition, with potential financial support of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, the golf course would provide a year-round emergency-use helipad for public health and safety including medical, fire and law enforcement activities — a service that currently operates only in summer months out of Tahoe City.
“I strongly support the purchase of the golf course because it’s important to provide recreational opportunities to keep our young community here,” said Tahoe City resident Leigh Cullen. “If we lose this opportunity now, we may find those younger families are going to leave this town and we need them.”
Opponents of the purchase expressed concerns over the cost to taxpayers and the indecisive future of the property. Some community members felt TCPUD was buying blindly, and without the certainty of what the future holds, were reluctant to hand over tax dollars without more concrete information.
“I’m not sure taking this out of the private sector and making it a public sector entity is in our best interest,” said Lee Roessler, a local resident and Realtor. “I want to know what the rush is and if we can wait for two to three years to find out exactly what can be done with this property.”
Delaying the purchase would allow for further assessment of the potential use, Gustafson said; however, in the meantime, there may be other private sector buyers who would not have the community’s best interest in mind when moving forward with operations.
“It’s a catch-22,” Gustafson said. “If the property goes into private hands, it could be a risk to community — the private sector may or may not give the community a say.”
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, community members requested a show of hands to demonstrate opposition or advocacy of the acquisition, with the majority of attendees declaring support of the purchase.
The TCPUD Board of Directors will meet on Feb. 17 to further discuss the acquisition; the district has until March 13 to finalize their decision on whether to proceed with the purchase or back out, allowing the current owners to move forward with other potential buyers.
If you were unable to attend the meeting, or would like to provide feedback on the golf course acquisition, contact Kelli Twomey, director of resource development and community relations, at 530-583-3796, ext. 21, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.