District to decide on Incline Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

District to decide on Incline Lake

Patricia Hickson

INCLINE VILLAGE – A half-dozen North Shore residents, shocked by the possibility that Incline might pass up the opportunity to buy five aces of the Incline Lake parcel for public use, have formed a coalition to lobby the Incline Village General Improvement District to follow through with their purchase of the property.

Coalition members have spent the past week putting together a position paper in support of the property’s acquisition, lobbying board members and encouraging the public to do the same.

“This is a huge opportunity that should not be squandered,” said Jim Nowlin, an Incline Village resident who said he is determined to prove to the board the value the property has to Incline and its residents.

“The potential use of that piece of property is so high on a year round basis – it gives Incline a lot of advantages.”

The coalition says those advantages include recreational, educational and political opportunities.

Scott Murray, former cross country coach at Incline High School hopes the district will use the land to establish recreational facilities such as a cross country ski area, mountain biking course and interpretive nature trails.

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“People already use that area a lot,” Murray said. “To have that resource up there for these recreational possibilities… there is no doubt that we’re going to be very happy we bought this in the future – and very unhappy if we don’t.”

Murray said the lake’s location is some 1,000 feet higher than any other cross country ski area in the region. “

Nowlin said he is concerned county plans for the property might not turn out to be amenable to the interests of the Incline community.

“We could end up playing ‘mother may I’ with the county (if they buy it),” Murray said, emphasizing Nowlin’s point.

Incline resident Dave Straley, a backcountry skier, stressed the importance of recognizing the historical role Incline Lake has played in the village’s history.

“It is within the historical, political and geographic vision of Incline, it was all part of the package,” Straley said, adding that some of the original year- round residents of the Incline Village area lived on Incline Lake. “…That is why it is called Incline Lake, not Washoe Lake or Mt. Rose Lake.”

Straley also pointed out the majority of the property (an estimated quarter acre notwithstanding) is within the Tahoe Basin, arguing that Incline likely has a greater personal investment in the land than communities in other parts of the county.

Of significant contention during IVGID board meeting discussions on whether or not IVGID should purchase the property has been from where the estimated $1 million dollars needed to make the purchase will come.

One proposal would charge Incline Village residents a one time recreation fee of $125 to cover the cost of the purchase.

The proposal caused some disturbance among residents who challenged the likelihood of the fee being limited to $125 and expressed concern that it would not just be a “one time” charge.

“We believe that a purchase such as the Incline Lakes property is part of the charter for which IVGID was founded – trade surplus land assets for desirable land that fits our mission and our future vision as a community,” reads the position paper created by the group.

As an alternative the coalition advocates using the funds collected by IVGID from land sales to help cover the cost of the Incline Lake property purchase. The fund, which is earmarked for capital expenditures, has a current balance of approximately $700,000.

Dave Straley said the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation of which he is a member is willing to contribute an additional $150,000 towards the purchase of the land.

The district signed a letter of intent to purchase the property from the 19 shareholders of the Incline Lake Corp. last November. Originally, the property was part of the 770-acre, $70 million Incline Lake acquisition brought forth by Sen. John Ensign using money from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act.

Terra Firma separated the prime five-acre parcel and offered it to IVGID in the fall. Both Terra Firma representatives and district officials at the time noted the district’s independent operation of the land would make it easier to build a “gateway facility” or center because it is not the forest service’s policy to build or maintain structures on its lands.

The coalition advocating for the purchase of the property said they respect concerns which is why they are proposing different payment options.