City Council rejects Bijou city hall site |

City Council rejects Bijou city hall site

Susan Wood

The idea of a South Lake Tahoe city hall at Bijou Community Park was removed Tuesday from the table.

Disc golf players and recreational enthusiasts who use the park showed up for the City Council meeting to express their opposition to building a 20,000-square-foot structure in the wooded area. They say it would ruin the tranquility of the park and diminish the open space in town.

The plan called for three holes of the disc golf course to be moved on four acres of the 37-acre park purchased in 1982 for $416,000.

“I find it interesting we’re having this discussion given the proclamation you just read,” Ken Morgan said, referring to the council agenda’s first item declaring July as parks and recreation month. “We’re spending millions of dollars to ask tourists to come here.”

Juan Chavez recommended the city buy Al Tahoe Elementary School.

Stephen Reinhard took it one step further in declaring his opposition to building a city hall anywhere “in these financial times.”

He suggested the Lake Tahoe Airport as a possible site.

“We need to recycle our facilities not redevelop our town,” Reinhard said.

In the end on a 5-0 vote, the council responded to public opinion.

“I do think it’s important to keep our open space there – as long we develop it for recreation,” Councilman Hal Cole said. “I don’t want to spend any more resources in putting (a city hall) there.”

Mayor Tom Davis said it took him two hours to shop at Safeway this past weekend because people came out against it in large numbers. Almost 1,000 signatures were quickly gathered to oppose the proposal.

“The reality became clear to me that we designed this park for recreation. I have to represent my constituency,” he said.

Davis suggested city staff talk to the landlord of the council chambers building to review whether they can purchase it or not.

The city is wanting to reduce a $137,000 commitment it pays every year to use the 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. structure. It figured the cost of erecting a new building would be $4 million.

Councilwoman Kathay Lovell reminded the community the city has spent $1.3 million in the last 15 years in rent. She added the city is running out of time in terms of taking action before the lease expires in 2006.

“I don’t think any alternative is going to get us out of the lease,” Councilman John Upton said.

Talk of using the land at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce has also come up. El Dorado County owns the land at Highway 50, and the city leases the building to the chamber for $1.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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