Interior Secretary to announce which projects will get funding
INCLINE VILLAGE – Six months of waiting and debating could finally see its fruition next week as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton is slated to make her official announcement on what projects of Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Round 6 will be funded.
Incline Village/Crystal Bay residents will find out if the 770-acre Incline Lake property and the 3-acre Dale Denio property will be acquired as federal lands with some of the $1.1 billion acquired through public land sale in southern Nevada.
“I can’t confirm or deny what is coming out of Norton’s office,” said Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Jo Simpson. “We do know she’s going to make the announcement next week. We know people are eager to know.”
That the announcement from Norton’s office is belated – she was originally to sign through or negate the proposals last November – has “nothing to do” with the sometimes controversial nature of the projects, Simpson said.
The 770-acre Incline Lake property – once a multi-family retreat established by Nevada developer Norman Biltz in the late 1930s, now owned by 19 shareholders with Biltz’s grandson, Norm Nash at the helm – is slated for acquisition using some $75 million of the Round 6 funds.
Because the U.S. Forest Service cannot maintain or manage any of the existing buildings on the property (which include a clubhouse and observatory), other partners including Washoe County, the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Incline Village General Improvement District were asked to participate in the land’s management once acquired.
The improvement district, in particular, has tentatively agreed to purchase a 5-acre parcel on the property which could be a visitors’ center, a “gateway” to Incline Village, a Nordic ski center and a meeting/conference facility.
The parcel available to IVGID will be “off the table” if Norton doesn’t sign it through next week, but possibilities of that seem remote, IVGID officials said.
“We have expected the announcement for the last several weeks,” said IVGID Public Works Director Dan St. John. “We really don’t know what her announcement’s going to be, other than that Sen. Ensign’s office has been clear and unwavering in their support of Incline Lake acquisition.”
Sen. John Ensign on Aug. 11 fast-tracked the public acquisition of the property calling it “one of the most important (public) acquisitions in Nevada history.”
After receiving a special request from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, North Shore property owner Dale Denio is slated to receive about $27 million for three parcels, which make up some 3.5-acres of Crystal Bay lakefront property between the Crystal Towers condominiums and other private lakefront property. The steeply graded parcel with no beach access has been approved by TRPA to be split into three buildable lots.
If acquired by the Forest Service with the use of lands act funds, the parcel “would be the biggest stretch of public access to the lake between Kings Beach and Lake Tahoe State Park,” said Washoe County Manager Katy Singlaub.
Denio also owns a home next to the property. Denio originally planned to build three estate homes and perform a remodel on his current residence, said Glen Williams of Minden-based Terra Firma Associates, the consulting firm that’s representing Denio in any land transaction.
The project has the support of The League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Club and Washoe County. However, many North Shore residents have been outspoken against public acquisition of the Denio parcel.
“Acquire it for $27 million of taxpayers’ money, what for?” asked Incline real estate agent Tom Bruno. “I’m all for leaving that land protected, but it’s virtually unbuildable now.
“If some kind of scenic turnout was created, think of what it would do to that already dangerous stretch of (Highway 28). … Look at the property’s values on the tax rolls. It just doesn’t make sense right now.”
Appraisals for the property are based on a fair-market value, and are rigorously reviewed to meet federal standards, Williams explained.
Forest Service officials this week hinted that the Denio property may not be “as done a deal as Incline Lake.”
“We don’t have any word for sure,” said Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman. “On the record, I know what you know – which is wait for the announcement … but there has been speculation.”
In order to acquire the Denio property, Incline Lake and a number of small acquisitions, land improvement and fire-prevention projects, the proposal requests a $187 million lump sum this year, the remainder of $300 million guaranteed to Tahoe since the lands act was enacted in 1998.
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