Joint-use facility on track to begin |

Joint-use facility on track to begin

William Ferchland
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / A $1.8 million upgrade of the South Tahoe Middle School track is among the first joint-use projects for the city, county and school district.

The efforts of three public agencies to offer community-based projects by sharing costs and addressing needs are gaining traction, literally.

The first phase of joint-use projects for the city of South Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and El Dorado County is a $1.8 million upgrade of the track at South Tahoe Middle School scheduled for completion next summer.

It’s being dubbed by some as a “sports complex” with a nine-lane, all-weather track and a synthetic-grass soccer field in the middle. There are even plans for a concession stand.

The project and other future plans of the three entities will be discussed during the district’s school board meeting scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. today. It will be followed by a 1:30 p.m. meeting on Aug. 15 between the five-member city council and five-member school board at the Lake Tahoe Airport to hear reports on the progress of the projects.

“It’s the first one I’m aware of in history that we have done a joint meeting with the school board,” said Councilwoman Kathay Lovell.

Tonight’s meeting will have a discussion-only presentation on findings from Harris and Associates, a land-planning company.

Members of the joint-use ad-hoc committee have looked at the feasibility of joint-use projects for several months. Cities such as Davis and Lincoln have similar arrangements and one organization – Cities, Counties and Schools Partnership – helps communities address such issues.

Officials said upgrading the track is manageable for their first project.

“I think it’s going to show the community that we can work together, number one, and we can work together on something that will come to fruition,” said Sue Novasel, a school board member.

Once the sports complex is completed, work will focus on constructing a 50,000-square-foot building which would house city, county and school district offices on a 5-acre lot near Al Tahoe Elementary School.

The anticipated completion date for the building, which is estimated to cost $25 million to $30 million, is 2009.

Grants are available for collaborative community projects, Lovell said. And while funds from each governmental agency can be used, money from the public will be needed.

Lovell said talks are underway with a “private party” who could make a “very significant donation” to the sports complex but wouldn’t identify the source.

The third phase is a 500-seat auditorium for a performing arts center. The plan is in infancy stage.

The dilapidated, historic track was once a source of pride for the community. It was once located at Echo Summit where the U.S. Olympic Trials were held in 1968. Hard times has fallen on the track after it was donated to the city and placed at South Tahoe Middle School.

It has been deemed unfit for high school competition by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. Water usually accumulates in spots. Cracks are a typical sight.

Lovell ranked the joint-use efforts in improving the track and creating a shared government complex next to other projects such as a convention center near Stateline, installing sidewalks and lighting along Highway 50 and addressing the Tahoe Valley Community Plan.

Norma Santiago, Lake Tahoe’s representative on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, embraces the sports complex plan. A report regarding the work of the joint-use committee will be presented to the board Aug. 22.

Santiago said she is frequently approached by people who endorse recreation facilities at South Lake Tahoe.

“I’ll be happy to see this because it’s a long time coming,” she said.

If you go

What: Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education meeting

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: District offices at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.

Why: Agenda items include discussion on joint-use projects, approval of revised 2006-07 budget due to approval of California budget, vote on new courses at South Tahoe High School

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