Group looks to liven up Linear Park | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Group looks to liven up Linear Park

Susan Wood

The black sheep of South Lake Tahoe parks is getting a facelift of sorts from a nonprofit group – but it needs more green to follow through with the beautification plans.

Linear Park – which runs alongside Highway 50 and the bike trail between Embassy Vacation Resort and Holiday Inn Express – has undergone much scrutiny through the years.

Core 24 Charities – a nonprofit organization spun out of the first Leadership Lake Tahoe – wants to change all that. Three hundred daffodil bulbs were planted there, and 700 more will go in by next Sunday.

During the natural path of city redevelopment six years ago, plants were put in to provide an alternative to heavy water-consuming plants and manicured turf. But the outcome looked more like weeds, setting off a firestorm of complaints to the city over the brown look to its park. And there was no broad-based irrigation system.

At one point, the city’s Redevelopment Agency toyed with the idea of putting in a low-maintenance Kentucky bluegrass called turtle turf a few years ago. But water poured on the grass turned it yellow.

“It’s an embarrassment actually. The vegetation there – I’ll call them weeds – aren’t even indigenous weeds. They’re Carson weeds,” said former Mayor Tom Davis, who served the city at the time. “I applaud them for taking a leadership role to correct what government didn’t do. This was not my vision.”

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Two years ago, Core 24 urged the South Tahoe Public Utility District to approve a free water hookup, and a new connection was made this last spring.

“They’ll still need to pay for water,” STPUD spokesman Dennis Cocking said.

And this is only the beginning. Core 24 needs volunteers, members and about $50,000 to develop a landscaping plan and install a sprinkler system with backflow. It will use proceeds from its second annual Tahoe Winter Expo party slated for Nov. 18 to help spearhead the effort. It donated $15,000 to local charities last year.

Bob Kingman of the California Tahoe Conservancy would like to see the long-term plan go through – especially since the state funded the construction of a bike trail beside the park for $700,000. He’s not satisfied with the current look.

“Unfortunately, the CTC isn’t in a position to maintain (the park). I fully support their efforts,” he said.

There’s no more state money to go around, and Kingman is concerned the public is all but tapped out on giving to another cause with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and donations for the school district’s sports athletic program, among other things bearing down.

Still, the group marches forward.

“There’s not a whole lot one can do that’s tangible in Tahoe,” said Nancy McDermid, who runs the Holiday Inn Express and serves on the organization’s board and the project’s subcommittee with Nancy Marzocco.

“Irrigation is the key, and that’s why it didn’t work before,” McDermid said, donning garden shoes while planting the King Alfred daffodil bulbs about a week ago.

Core 24, which was established to benefit local charities, may even have environmental groups on board.

“Native, or regional, plants are best adapted to the local environment and always the preferred alternative. It sounds like they’re trying to do something positive for a little corner of Tahoe and who could argue with that – better bulbs than pavement,” said John Friedrich of the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

The effort started with the installing of a quartzite rock pedestal to support the Washoe woman. The Tahoe Meadows area was once a frequent fishing area for the tribe. The job cost $1,250, with Steve Harding of Tahoe Sand and Gravel donating the stone.

Bulbs planted last year sprouted in the spring, giving the area a splash of yellow.

The latest planting brought up a pleasant thought for Kim Hawkins of Redding, who was riding her bike along the trail Tuesday.

“It would certainly be picturesque,” she said. “I like this trail.”