Tahoe Hockey Academy seeks approval from Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
On Wednesday, June 22, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board will discuss the approval of a hockey academy off South Upper Truckee Road in Meyers during its meeting in Stateline. The proposed project will change a single-family residence on a 16.4-acre parcel to a recreational group facility used for training hockey players.
Tahoe Hockey Academy, a program that seeks to promote competitive hockey among youth while training them for a future in the sport, is looking to move to the area later this year. It would include two dorm buildings, along with a basketball and tennis court located near the existing access road. In the winter, the tennis court would be flooded with water and converted to a small hockey rink, allowing for three-on-three practices.
“What we are proposing is a California hockey academy for middle school- and high school-aged students,” said Mike Dill, project planner for Tahoe Hockey Academy. “Our athletes are coming from around the country and they are here to participate in a high-end hockey program. This program is geared toward getting these kids to the next level of hockey, whether that be D-I college or playing in another high-level junior league in preparation for ultimately the National Hockey League.”
If the proposal is approved by TRPA, a new two-story, 13,193-square-foot structure would be built to house a dining hall, kitchen and exercise facility. The existing residence would see a 7,800-square-foot addition. Combined, the converted residence, lower and upper dorms would house approximately 100 people, including eight residence assistants who help attendees with everyday needs.
Tahoe Hockey Academy staff would shuttle athletes to and from South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena in two vans. Transport is necessary, as practices and games will be held at the ice arena. Athletes are not allowed to bring personal vehicles to the academy to avoid causing neighborhood traffic issues.
“People are concerned about noise, traffic and light pollution. Those are the three issues that I’ve seen letters about,” said Sue Novasel, El Dorado County supervisor, TRPA Governing Board member and Meyers resident. “I can address that because I’ve lived out here. I actually am closer than some of the letter writers. I live closer than them and I don’t see the impact of light and noise at all.”
There will be no night lighting at the hockey academy, apart from downcast lighting to keep pedestrians safe near buildings and on walkways when the sun goes down. The outdoor courts will not be lit, and tentative hours of sports facilities operation is 7 a.m. to dusk, depending on time of year.
Before finalizing the permit and beginning construction, approval from TRPA is needed. El Dorado County Planning Commission signed off on the project April 29 after reviewing the proposal and its compliance with the special permit that was approved for the area in 2002. No organization has moved into the property in that time.
On Wednesday the TRPA Governing Board will hear a presentation from Wendy Jepson, current planning division manager of TRPA, before voting on the project. After analyzing an extensive environmental checklist, approval will be recommended to the Governing Board because the project fits with TRPA’s codes and regulations, according to Tom Lotshaw, public information officer of TRPA.
“We appreciate the public’s interest in the project and the insights they’ve had and the scrutiny some of them have put into it, and that usually leads to a better review,” Lotshaw said. “The more eyes looking at it the better, generally.”
If approved, Tahoe Hockey Academy would be one of only a few high-altitude hockey camps in the nation and fit within the Meyers Community Plan that was developed over 20 years ago.
“I know as a hockey dad there is a demand for this type of hockey,” said Dill.
He believes many Tahoe children have advanced to a point where there are no existing programs in the area that can support high level hockey players.
In addition to physically preparing attendees for a future in hockey, the academy would offer online academics and accreditation through US Performance Academy, a digital independent middle and high school for high performance athletes.
“The primary focus is this is a hockey program. As required by California state law, we have to provide an education program,” Dill said. “USPA [is] specifically designed and set up to allow kids to have flexible independent study so they can focus on their training.”