Incline Lake owners open escrow account |

Incline Lake owners open escrow account

Andrew Pridgen

An escrow account has been opened by the land broker representing Incline Lake’s 19 shareholders, as the transition of Incline Lake into the public’s hands moves forward.

If the 777-acre parcel is purchased by a public entity such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Incline Village General Improvement District is slated to purchase a five-acre parcel on the property for $1 million.

The significance of the escrow account’s opening was underscored by IVGID General Manager Bill Horn as an important cue for the district.

IVGID in March 2006 agreed to the parcel’s purchase, which would give the district a stake in the largest private-to-public land transaction since Incline was founded. When IVGID decided to become a part of the sale, trustees and staff discussed possible future uses could include a visitor’s center or cross country ski facility.

“Terra Firma has opened up an escrow account with Ticor Title in Reno,” Horn said. “I was just on the phone with state lands, and they’re forwarding me information on Question One funding.”

Question One funds are bonds raised by a state sales tax increase in 2002. IVGID plans to offset the purchase price of the land by applying for use of Question One funding.

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U.S. Forest Service officials and Terra Firma representatives this week gave scant detail about when the final transaction might see the light of day.

Forest service spokesman Rex Norman said the public lands office is still “waiting on issues related to the reappraisal.”

Jacques Etchegoyhen, a principal at Terra Firma, a land brokerage firm based in Minden which represents the owners of Incline Lake, was similarly noncommittal when asked about the status of the transaction or the opening of the escrow account.

“Things are moving forward,” he said. “But I cannot give an official comment from the ownership group.”

Last fall, the 19 shareholders of Incline Lake rejected the forest service’s original appraisal of the 777-acre parcel. After the first of the year, the forest service agreed to a re-appraisal. Shortly after the transaction was announced, then Secretary of State Gale Norton approved the potential use of $75 million of Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act funds for the purchase.

Sen. John Ensign, who brought news of the fast-track the 777-acre parcel to the public in July 2005, has been similarly tight-lipped on the transaction’s current status.

Calls to his office last week and this week were not returned.