Landscape architect interns make dream plans for this city | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Landscape architect interns make dream plans for this city

Susan Wood
The rendering illustrates a grand design made by a group of landscape architectural students tackling a new layout for Highway 50. The proposal is shown at El Dorado Beach, one of three sections the Design Workshop interns chose to work with.
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This one’s for the community to let its dreams run wild.

Imagine greenbelts along the Truckee River and Trout Creek, bike lanes on both sides of Highway 50, overhead pedestrian bridges connecting structures, a civic center staged at the Campground by the Lake and a solar-powered water taxi pulling up to a beach pier.

These are but a few Highway 50 corridor concepts rendered when Design Workshop cut a group of 16 landscape architect interns loose to concoct a dramatic departure and new vision for the community’s major thoroughfare. The 16 were selected from 233 applicants.

A demonstration is due to be shown at Tuesday’s City Council meeting slated for 9 a.m.

The proposal is broken up into three sections with Highway 50 serving as the spine connecting them: the “Y,” Meadows – which encompasses Sierra Boulevard at its center – and the El Dorado Beach zone.

“The one thing that was key here is we were all blown away by the natural environment,” said intern Jackie Togneri, who’s a senior at Penn State. “We see a great opportunity for development in this area.”

The interns rode their bicycles down Highway 50 to get a feel for the experience. They came away unimpressed.

For each area, they placed a transit node where buses could make pit stops.

The group hit the ground running with the “Y” as the gateway. Four pedestrian walkways designed to connect mixed-use buildings are situated in the renderings at the town’s major population base.

For the “Meadows” section, the aim focused on restoring watershed areas and turning a scattered, leapfrog development into more of centralized hub around Sierra Boulevard about where Hoss Hoggs stands. They recommend a visitor center near where the Magic Carpet amusement park is situated.

“We wanted the neighborhoods more connected and less split here,” said intern Biff Sturgess, a graduate student of the University of Texas in Arlington.

A block off the highway, a work-force housing complex is planned for both the Meadows section and the El Dorado Beach area.

“What we found is this is a destination spot,” Sturgess said of the area.

The popular beach, deemed the heart of Tahoe by the group, covers the Al Tahoe Boulevard to Bijou area. Midway, the students suggest installing an amphitheater to be used for civic events at the city-run Campground by the Lake. They envision art-oriented organizations locating next to the city gathering place.

“This could be the next summer concert place,” he said.

On the beach side of Highway 50, the design comes with a boat dock off a pier that accommodates a solar-powered water taxi, as researched by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staffers.

There’s been much talk around the community about improvements off Highway 50 that will spruce up the town. The hope is to combine design concepts with the $32 million Highway 50 transportation project, which will include curbs, gutters, street lighting, landscaping and drainage systems.

The first phase due to start in 2007 runs between Trout Creek and Ski Run Boulevard. The second phase includes the section between Trout Creek and the “Y.”

The city is interested in initiating a business improvement district that the property owners will pay in to in order to maintain the route. The cost of maintenance, for which a council subcommittee is currently looking for a revenue source, is estimated at $350,000 annually.

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