INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - Who doesn't recognize the lyrics and melody of the Beach Boys' first No. 1 Billboard hit in 1964, "I Get Around"?
Incline Village's own, Mike Love, co-wrote the song with Brian Wilson and sang lead vocal, and it was with some tongue-in-cheek humor that Love made reference to this timely tune at the long-awaited dedication ceremony Wednesday morning for the Incline Roundabout, a first for Lake Tahoe.
Love joined other notables on a pristine fall day to commemorate this $2.4 million public/private partnership designed to promote safety, protect Lake Tahoe's famed water clarity and air quality and to celebrate local public art.
Master of Ceremonies at Wednesday's ceremony was Rudy Malfabon, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation, with speaking time given to Love, Washoe County Commissioner John Breternitz and Incline resident Don Kanare, member of the Incline Gateway Committee, a group of local residents working with the Tahoe Transportation District.
The original concept for the roundabout started back in 2001 during a community vision meeting with Kanare, Jim Clark and Jim Nowlin (original members of the Gateway Committee) plus local residents. The initial discussion included the overall concept, traffic control, water and air quality and a more attractive entrance for Lake Tahoe's North Shore where Mt. Rose's 431 and Highway 28 intersect.
In early 2007, Kanare said the idea for what was to become today's roundabout struck him while waiting 15 minutes to turn left at the intersection onto Highway 28, all the while breathing in exhaust fumes from the vehicles in front of him.
"It dawned on me that the solution to this intersection would be to build a large diameter roundabout so the traffic could flow smoothly, accidents would be reduced, air and noise pollution would decrease and we would have a beautiful entrance to our community," he said in his speech Wednesday.
Kanare referred to his late cat, "Spumoni," who used to run around in circles and served as the inspiration for the roundabout nearly six years ago, and he dubbed the roundabout "Spumoni Circle." (An inside note: June Towhill Brown, the local artist who created the bronze indigenous animal sculptures scattered amid granite rocks that grace the roundabout, actually patterned the face of the bobcat from a photo of "Spumoni.")
"This entrance to Incline Village and Crystal Bay will welcome millions of visitors from all over the world for generations to come," Kanare said. "And it's only fitting that the most beautiful place in the world should provide a welcoming entrance that showcases the native wildlife for everyone to enjoy."
Special attention also was given Wednesday to Brown, who was chosen from a field of accomplished artists who submitted their ideas to the Incline Gateway Committee. Concepts for the art came through the Incline Gateway Community Outreach sessions. Brown is founder of J.T. Brown Sculptures and a distinguished member of Woman Artists of the West.
"I am honored to be have been selected for our community's first public art project," Brown said. "I hope the sculptures reflect the mountain personality of our community and the nature that surrounds us throughout Lake Tahoe."
- Tahoe Bonanza editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.