City Council approves Trout Creek project
Despite homeowners’ objections, the Trout Creek restoration project will flow to completion after a 4-1 vote of the South Lake Tahoe City Council.
Tuesday’s special meeting drew about 50 people, including Ormsby Drive residents upset with plans to reroute 1,000 feet of the existing stream channel out of sight behind shrubs and bushes. The group also criticized the city’s outreach to residents.
“We want the right to be involved in the process, which we have been denied, until this eleventh hour,” said Cathy Gonsalves.
Although the council voted to proceed with the $3.5 million project, with Bill Crawford dissenting, it removed three of the project’s 18 wildlife habitat pools to ease residents’ concerns about mosquitoes.
Approval for the final phase of the project was tabled June 19 due to residents’ complaints, which included loss of property value and aesthetics. They asked the City Council to consider alternatives to maintain some water flow near their homes.
But city staff said any such changes would cost between $150,000 and $300,000 and delay the project without any significant environmental benefit. Funding from the Bureau of Reclamation, which is contributing a total of $1.4 million, is slated to expire in October, said City Manager David Childs.
Councilman Tom Davis said he appreciated the concerns of the residents, but believed the project was sound.
“I really believe this is a good project and the decision should be based on science not emotion,” Davis said.
Councilwoman Brooke Laine said the project will increase the health of the meadow and have a positive environmental impact.
“This project serves the greater community as a whole, and I am 100 percent behind it,” Laine said.
The City Council voted to award the $677,000 bid to V&C Construction to finish the Trout Creek project, which began in 1999 and is 90 percent complete. Remaining contingency funds, if any, will be used to hire a consultant to study whether some water flow could be maintained near Ormsby Drive.
To secure funding for such a project, it would most likely need to demonstrate a significant water quality, wildlife, or public use benefit.
The creek is being rerouted as part of the 1997 presidential mandate that called for $907 million in environmental improvements at Lake Tahoe. The creek’s original path was altered about 140 years ago during the Comstock era.
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