Incline Lake acquisition won’t meet deadline |

Incline Lake acquisition won’t meet deadline

Andrew Pridgen

INCLINEVILLAGE – Confirmation from Sen. John Ensign’s office came down last week that the Incline Lake parcel will not, in fact be ready for public acquisition on the once certain Aug. 11 close date.

Local agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Incline Village General Improvement District and Washoe County have been working with one another since last August to, per Ensign’s request, “fast-track” putting the 777-acre parcel overlooking Incline Village into the hands of the public.

Officials from Ensign’s office said the “important thing for (Incline residents) to remember” is that the Aug. 10 deadline was “never set in stone” and the deal is “still moving along.”

“The first thing is an acquisition (of this size) can hang out for two or three years,” said deputy chief of staff John Lopez. “(Ensign) wanted to challenge people involved – if we didn’t hit the Aug. 10 deadline it’s not (bad).”

Lopez mirrored comments earlier in the week from local agency officials that the appraisal process for the property is underway.

“The appraiser is a competent guy,” Lopez said. “He’s worked on (large-scale) acquisitions in the basin before… we have all the information from the owners of (Incline Lake), but is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.”

Another tangible show of progress noted by Ensign’s office this week was that agency officials met Tuesday on the Incline Lake property with officials from Terra Firma, the Minden-based land consultant acting in a broker role on behalf of the 19 shareholders of Incline Lake.

Lopez said Ensign’s office does not expect any surprises from Terra Firma, through the sometimes tenuous appraisal phase.

“Terra Firma is feeling very positive,” Lopez said. “All of us want a very fair appraisal – we want a number that characterizes the (property). We want (taxpayers) to get their money’s worth.

“Everything is on-track … I can’t think of anything that would suggest that (the deal) won’t get completed by the end of the year.”

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton in February announced that Incline Lake would be funded through Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Round 6.

While the parcel, with an estimated value of $75 million, was eligible for appraisal in late-February, Ensign officials said a number of “technical issues” needed to be worked out.

“Before you go to appraisal there has to be an agreement from forest service to agree what they’re purchasing,” deputy chief of staff Lopez said. “(We) had to work through a number of technical issues – what’s going to be appraised – that’s why it took a bit longer. But we’re in great shape.”

Once a multi-family retreat, Incline Lake was established by Nevada developer Norman Biltz in the late 1930s, and is now owned by 19 shareholders with Biltz’s grandson, Norm Nash at the helm.

Because the forest service cannot maintain or manage any of the existing buildings on the property (which include a clubhouse and observatory), other partners were asked to participate in the land’s management once acquired.

IVGID, in particular, has tentatively agreed to purchase a 5-acre parcel on the property for $1 million. The parcel could be host to a visitors’ center, a “gateway” to Incline Village, a Nordic ski center and a meeting/conference faculty “among other things,” IVGID officials said.

Ensign office officials said the senator will re-visit the Incline Lake property on Aug. 10 with some “good announcements” of the progress being made.

When queried whether the senator feels a threat that SNPLMA moneys will be taken away prior to the final sale of the land, spokesman Lopez was adamant.

“That is not going to happen,” he said.

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