The City of South Lake Tahoe has approved about $60,000 in additional funds toward its $4.8 million Harrison Avenue Streetscape Project.
The money will be used to create new space to recognize and honor the area’s Olympians. Champions Plaza, as the space has been named, will be located at the south corner of Lakeview Avenue and Hwy 50.
Originally, improvements for the street corner were fairly minor under the Harrison Avenue project, said Jim Marino, assistant public works director. But the extra funds allow construction crews to emphasize landscaping, create berms, install electrical infrastructure and more to prepare for whatever the city decides to put there.
City council members voted unanimously to approve the changes Tuesday, but chose to hold off on deciding what artwork will occupy the space until the redesign is completed.
One reason for this was that a proposed $108,000 sculpture was determined to be larger than the space it would accommodate. Mayor Hal Cole suggested the artists might have an easier time designing proposals for the plaza once the work is finished.
“I think it would be better for the artists if they could walk the plaza and get the scale and scope,” he said.
Following a request for proposals in April, the city received five ideas for artwork in Champions Plaza. The proposals ranged in design and cost, from $650 to $3.9 million.
The city had asked for proposals involving some kind of sculpture, flag design or both. The $650 idea was for flag designs only. The $3.9 million idea — which a selection committee chose not to explore further — included a sculpture, flags and designs.
However, council members decided to reject all bids for the plaza’s artwork and hold another workshop at a later time to discuss new options.
In other council news, city officials unanimously approved changes to a current bingo ordinance that needed to reflect an updated state law.
Additionally, all five council members agreed to provide up to $10,000 in matching funds for a project involving snow removal from bike paths. The South Lake Tahoe Recreation Facilities Joint Powers Authority made the request for the funding match.
The city also held a workshop on the budget, which City Manager Nancy Kerry said is on target this year.
“(It) didn’t look that way in the winter,” she said. “We lost quite a bit of money in the winter, and of course we had not a very good winter for the whole community. But we’re able to make that back up. Everybody has seen how busy the town has been.”
Despite this, Kerry said the city should expect another economic slowdown in a few years, as one seems to occur about every 10 years.
“In three of four years, we should be seeing a slowdown,” she said. “How big is it going to be? How long is it going to last? We don’t know. So as often as people are feeling (like) ‘Great. We’re out of the woods’ or ‘We’ve got to recovery. We’ve recovered.’ We’re not. We’re going to see recessions.”
Councilman Tom Davis said the city needs to be even more careful with spending now while things are going fairly well.
“We need to be extremely cautious right now (with) what we do and build that reserve up even more for that rainy day,” he said, “because it will come.”