Measure R rolls on | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Measure R rolls on

Adam Jensen
ajensen@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A proposed measure to improve bike paths and youth ball fields at the South Shore inched closer to reality this week.

The three member South Lake Tahoe Recreation Facilities Joint Powers Authority heard concerns from bicycle and Little League advocates about Measure R at El Dorado County Library in South Lake Tahoe Thursday morning.

The proposed measure would expand the JPA’s use of Measure S funds to include renovating Class 1 bike trails built before Sept. 19, 2000 and improving ball fields throughout the JPA’s jurisdiction, which has the same boundaries as Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

Voters passed the Measure S property tax in 2000 to pay for improvements to Tahoe Paradise Park facilities, an ice rink, ball fields near Lake Tahoe Community College and maintenance of 25 miles of future bike trails.

But a lack of state funding has led to only eight miles of new bike trails being built since 2000 and left the JPA accumulating between $85,000 and $90,000 a year in recent years.

The JPA has about $300,000 in unspent Measure S funds and will have about $470,000 by summer 2012, said JPA staff member John Upton.

Recommended Stories For You

Measure R would allow a maximum of $500,000 in Measure S money to go towards improving ball fields by 2017 and a minimum of $500,000 to renovating pre-2000 Class 1 bike trails over the next 19 years, said JPA Chair Norma Santiago.

Maintenance money for bike trails built following the passage of Measure S is “sacred” and will not be negatively impacted if Measure R passes, Santiago said.

Several people at Thursday’s meeting said they were still wary of little league advocates over 2009’s Measure B. Some were concerned that bicyclists were not properly involved in the creation of that measure.

The measure sought to use Measure S funds for improvements to the Little League fields on Rufus Allen Boulevard and Lyons Avenue. Measure B was defeated after receiving 60.5 percent of the vote, about six percentage points short of what was needed to pass.

Bike trails, which were identified as a priority in community surveys prior to Measure S, will suffer if Measure R passes, said Hank Raymond.

“Measure R is another attempt to direct bike path money to ball fields,” Raymond said.

The Meyers resident said he supports creating a different measure to expand the number of bike trails where Measure S funding could be used.

South Shore resident and Little League supporter John Cefalu said Measure B was an honest attempt to spend unused money and improve the community.

The failure of playing fields near the college to come to fruition as envisioned has deprived local youth of quality experiences found in nearby communities, Cefalu said.

What was planned as four baseball diamonds became a synthetic turf soccer field after changes to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency tree-cutting rules and street setback regulations reduced what could be accomplished at the site, said Upton and former City Parks and Recreation Superintendent Steve Weiss.

Critics of Measure R have questioned how effectively Measure S money was spent during construction of the playing field and ice arena.

Still, one bicycle advocate said he is more likely to support Measure R now compared to when it was first being discussed.

Measure R would at least be a “small step” in fixing gaps in the quality of the South Shore bike path network, said Charles Nelson, assistant event director for Bike the West.

“I’m came around because it gives us something,” Nelson said.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, the JPA was not scheduled to meet again until July 29, but the group continued this week’s meeting to July 13.

The meeting was scheduled following concerns an attempt to place Measure R on a November ballot so late would not provide enough time to make revisions and meet elections requirements, such as allowing adequate time for the filing of an opposition statement.

At the July 13 meeting, the JPA will decide whether to adopt a resolution calling for an election on Measure R. The resolution will include the full text of the measure and the ballot question to be presented to voters.

The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. in the college’s Creekside Room.

“It is possible that the JPA will defer making a final decision on (whether to hold an election) until a special meeting likely to be held on August 10, at which time it will have a better estimate of the cost to the JPA of participating in the November 8 election,” Upton said in an email.

Placing the measure on the ballot will cost anywhere from $18,000 to $85,000 depending on whether incumbents on the South Tahoe Public Utility District, Lake Tahoe Community College and Lake Tahoe Unified School District boards face challengers, Upton said.

If one or more of the elections are contested and require an election, the JPA’s cost of placing Measure R on the ballot will decrease, Upton said.