South Lake Tahoe school district backs out of proposed recreation agreement
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Lake Tahoe Unified School District pulled out of a proposed recreation agreement last week with the city of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Community College due to larger-than-expected maintenance needs. It was initially discussed that the school district would take over field maintenance as part of a management partnership.
“At first the idea was that we would be just taking care of the grass, but the potential maintenance needs grew larger,” district superintendent James Tarwater said. “We don’t have the manpower for that.”
The proposed joint powers authority, officially called the Community Play Consortium, also includes the city and the college. It angles to create additional recreation fields near Lake Tahoe Community College. Additionally, the college plans to sink up to $1.6 million, with a $300,000 match from the city, to rehabilitate the current artificial turf soccer field used for soccer and the annual SnowGlobe music festival, which returns to South Lake Tahoe Dec. 29-31.
The city will invest up to $1.2 million for new fields and relocate the music festival to one of them.
Initially, only the college and the city considered forming the joint powers authority. According to Tarwater, the school district got involved when a regulation-size baseball field became part of the discussion. Nancy Kerry, the city manager, said costs for new fields haven’t been finalized yet; whether a new baseball field will be built is still to be determined.
Tarwater said the district would still participate in the recreation agreement by scheduling all events held either on school-district or proposed JPA-owned properties. Currently, potential vendors must go to the school district and either the college or city to schedule an event.
LTCC president Kindred Murillo said Friday that Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s scaled-back involvement won’t diminish the overall dynamic of the partnership. The college will pick up maintenance of the original field and the two new fields because of its immediate proximity to campus. The city will contribute $50,000 annually for the maintenance costs by means of funds from another joint powers authority.
“All of the revenue that comes into the JPA from events and tournaments will be used for maintenance and operations,” Murillo said.
She added that the overall goal is to share costs while providing new facilities for the community.
Kerry said the city and the college will continue on with the partnership as it currently stands.
The agreement requires approval from the boards of all participating agencies. They hope to have a formal agreement in place by January.
Why the JPA matters
The city, the school district, and the college all agree there’s a demand for new fields to accommodate both local activities and tournaments.
The current playing field near Lake Tahoe Community College was built as part of an agreement with the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Facilities JPA after Measure S passed in 2000. The measure allowed the JPA to issue up to $6.5 million in bonds to maintain new trails, construction of an ice rink and athletic fields, and make improvements to Tahoe Paradise Park in Meyers, California.
Four fields were supposed to be built near the college, but only one was built.
Kerry, at the Tuesday, Oct. 17, school board meeting, said that the new fields would exceed promises made to voters in 2000. The JPA also falls into South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County’s Parks, Trails & Recreation Master Plan.
Tarwater said he notices that demand for fields in South Lake Tahoe exceeds the current need.
Lake Tahoe Unified School District owns approximately 90 percent of all public fields in South Lake Tahoe, and it allows community events and tournaments on them.
He noted that new fields would add to the idea of a central location for recreation and tournaments. Bike trails connect to the college, the middle school and to the city-owned Bijou Park, which recently added a bike park.
“That’s a nice core — where you have nice fields, and where kids and families can go back and forth between facilities,” Tarwater said.