Baby steps for a complex idea: Shared government facility and other plans to be considered |

Baby steps for a complex idea: Shared government facility and other plans to be considered

William Ferchland

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Once used for the Olympic training for the U.S. team, the South Tahoe Middle School track is in poor condition. Its restoration and other projects will be discussed at Tuesday's Lake Tahoe Unified School District board meeting.

A restored South Tahoe Middle School track?

A 900-seat performing arts center?

A shared government complex?

Those concepts and more will be discussed at a board meeting Tuesday at Lake Tahoe Unified School District, which is looking into the feasibility of joint-use projects with the city of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County.

Officials with the district and city met earlier this month to discuss the topic. A casual meeting on the issue is scheduled today between Mayor Kathay Lovell, El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago and school board member Sue Novasel.

Last week the City Council formed an ad-hoc committee consisting of Lovell and City Council member Hal Cole to explore the concept of the partnership.

Recommended Stories For You

James Tarwater, superintendent of Lake Tahoe Unified School District, will ask the school board to vote on forming a committee to investigate the partnership with the city and El Dorado County. The 6 p.m. board meeting will be at the South Tahoe High School library.

In a document filed to the board, Tarwater stated $1.5 million from Proposition 47 funds would be eligible to use for the 2005 joint-use funding cycle. Proposition 47 was passed in 2002 by voters to provide $13.05 billion general obligation bonds for the construction and modernization of education facilities in California.

Tarwater stated $30 million is available under Proposition 47 funds for joint-use projects.

Ideas involved a complex to house county, school district and city offices, restoration of the track at South Tahoe Middle School, a performing arts center and an indoor sports facility.

“By creating co-located facilities, the city, county and the district will have the opportunity to save money and create efficiencies in their respective organization’s ability to deliver services, enabling the citizens of South Lake Tahoe to become more of an integral part of the community,” Tarwater stated in the board agenda document.

The district office at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd. and city hall at 1052 Tata Lane have been topics of conversation. A few months ago word circulated the empty Lake Tahoe Airport would be the next city hall. The district office, located at the corner of a busy intersection, is prime property and sometimes a subject for the district to make money if it were leased or sold.

Lovell said the airport is still an option but called the possible joint-use partnership a “priority” because it provides more opportunities.

After attending a League of California Cities meeting, Lovell said the towns of Lincoln and Cupertino are looking into similar options.

“It seems to be a trend in California,” she said

“We all have similar needs and the school district has assets of which we don’t have and we all see ways where we can possibly consolidate and be in one location,” Lovell added.

Santiago, newly elected to the county supervisor post, is encouraged by the idea. She limited her words until after the meeting to avoid putting “the cart before horse.”

“I think we need to invoke a process that will make that community center what the community wants,” she said.

Novasel stressed the notion is still in the early stages but she plans to vote for the formation of the superintendent’s committee.

“There is nothing set in stone,” she said. “We’re just at this study point.”

Novasel is excited about the possibility of a joint complex holding government entities to help create “economies of scale.” She cited the property surrounding Al Tahoe Elementary, closed because of budget cuts, at the end of Lyons Avenue as one possible location of the shared complex.

Novasel worked on the Meyers Community Plan and said one hurdle will be the bureaucracy involved in such an idea.

With budgets tightening for the city, county and school district, Novasel said the concept is worth looking into.

“I don’t see that trend reversing for anytime soon,” Novasel said. “So we really need to look at our property to see what we have.”