56-Acre project moving on to next step | TahoeDailyTribune.com

56-Acre project moving on to next step

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Lake Tahoe resident Lorna Cannon looks at design plans for the 56-Acre project. An updated design was approved Thursday.

Plans to revamp 56 acres of public land in the Rufus Allen Boulevard area have been fine-tuned with the addition of more restrooms, a drop-off zone in front of the library, an expanded amphitheater and additional parking.

Now, the proposal could be moving on to its next phase, after the seventh and final scheduled meeting of the 56-Acre project’s steering committee Thursday. The meeting concluded with approval of an updated design.

The meeting at Inn by the Lake was open to the public, and the focus of the presentation was clearly green.

Emphasizing environmentally-friendly elements – such as cisterns capturing rainwater for reuse on site to constructing buildings utilizing the most amount of natural daylight – will be helpful in securing funding for the project’s implementation, according to speakers at Thursday night’s meeting.

“OK, we’ve done all of this planning, is there really any money out there?” Patrick Wright, executive director for the California Tahoe Conservancy, asked rhetorically. “The answer is yes.”

The conservancy has funded the planning process up to this point, a $698,000 investment, but each element in the design of the project will need to have its own funding before it can be realized.

Citing the priorities of the state under California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wright said keeping “bold” green elements in the plan will make the project more competitive for state funding and also attract other investors.

Several members of the steering committee had minor criticisms of the plan during Thursday’s meeting, but nearly every committee member voiced satisfaction with the current design.

Concerns that were raised included the ideal level of parking at the site, a desire to include an open field at the project, and whether recreational vehicles have a place in a project with an environmentally-friendly focus.

But with a generally favorable response from the steering committee in regards to the design, the plan appears to be moving into its next phase.

The most up-to-date design for the 56-Acre project is expected to be presented to the South Lake Tahoe City council and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors in mid-January.

Approval from the governing bodies will allow environmental, economic and parking analyses for the current design to commence.

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