Expanding Incline recreation center may not be the best decision (Opinion)

Judith Miller / Guest column

A neighborhood meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Aug. 16, at the Incline Village General Improvement District offices at 893 Southwood Boulevard to discuss a proposed 33,000 square foot expansion to the recreation center.

“The purpose of the neighborhood meetings is to integrate community feedback into development plan designs before they are submitted to the county for approval,” said the Washoe County website,

The Duffield Foundation has generously offered to fund the construction. However, many questions have arisen that have not yet been addressed. 

Initially, I think we were all thrilled at the prospect of expanding the rec center, but now that more details have been presented, I am beginning to wonder if this is the best decision.  IVGID has a responsibility to use its limited resources where they provide the greatest good for the community as a whole. The major elements are a dedicated gymnastics area, a basketball court and a dedicated youth center, likely to be operated by the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. Gymnastics and a youth center were not part of the 2019 Community Services Master Plan. The master plan focuses on multi-generational, multi-purpose uses.

Considering there is a general lack of space to develop amenities already identified in the Master Plan, is it truly serving the community to dedicate large areas for uses not even mentioned in that plan? 

The land on which the rec center was built has a deed restriction limiting its use to recreation only. The BGCNLT’s mission and programs (Education and Career Development, Health and Life Skills, Sports, Fitness and Recreation, The Arts and Character and Leadership Development) go way beyond recreation. They also exceed the limited services IVGID is authorized (and funded) to provide, namely public recreation and certain utilities. Other organizations might be better positioned to provide this type of facility.

In nearby communities BGC has partnered with school districts or with Washoe County. Recreation is not the main focus of the BGC. Their goals are more aligned with those of schools and general government. A partnership with the school district or Washoe County would be more appropriate for a Boys and Girls Club. Perhaps the Duffield Foundation could build a youth center on county or school district land or negotiate the purchase of the OES or another site. 

The IVGID Board’s decision to sell land to the school district (for the middle school) and essentially give away land for the Parasol Building, were unfortunately short-sighted. The land was deed restricted for recreation and intended to be preserved for future recreation needs; we are just now realizing the consequences of those seemingly “good” decisions. We are faced with acquisition of more land, not contiguous to our other recreational facilities, just to accommodate master plan elements such as the dog park. 

The expansion as presented does not meet specific needs that were spelled out in the master plan. The 2019 plan called for a larger fitness room, aerobics/dance studio and storage space for spin equipment. A warm water pool was a high priority in the community survey and should be incorporated into any plan for expansion of the rec center. It would serve both young and old. We wouldn’t need to take our little ones to Truckee or to Reno to learn how to swim. A warm pool is conducive to elderly residents being able to participate in water exercise. And if you’ve ever skied in Europe, the warm pools there are a tremendous draw for the after-ski crowd. This might be a great source of revenue to offset the cost.

Alternatively, if we form a city and it takes over IVGID/providing recreation, it would have all the powers of a general government and be able to partner with organizations like BGC if the community was in support. We would still need to deal with the land restriction; however, a court action could solve that problem.

This plan will certainly be welcomed by parents of school aged children, but fails to address the needs of the youngest and oldest members of the community. It ignores many master plan recommendations in which we have already invested hundreds of hours of study and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The proposal fails to recognize the land restrictions, as well as the limited powers of our GID.

Please attend the meeting on Aug. 16. Share your ideas for a thoughtful rec center design that meets the multi-generational recreation needs of our community.

Judith Miller is an Incline Village resident.

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