City parks and recreation future is active (Opinion)
Earlier this year, City Council appointed our current parks and recreation commissioners group that includes a healthy mix of experienced and new commissioners.
We welcome new commissioners Aricela Ramos and Margie Kovarik-Maxhimer, along with veterans David Gregorich, Dan Thrift, Dr. Greg Bergner and Kira Smith to an exciting time for South Lake Tahoe relating to Parks and Recreation.
First and foremost on our commission radar is our new multi-generational recreation and swim complex, which will sit on the northeast side of the 56-acre project, directly adjacent to the El Dorado Public Library.
This 62,000-square-foot facility includes two full-size high school basketball courts (dividable into volleyball, pickleball, and indoor soccer courts), a quarter mile indoor running track, cardio and free-weight area, six-lane 25-meter swimming pool with two additional warmup lanes, kids play pool area, warm therapy resistance lazy river, community/senior/dance gathering and meeting rooms, and beautiful open lobby spaces for community enjoyment.
Groundbreaking begins this spring, with underground utility work completed in 2022, and vertical construction starting in 2023 for a 2024 opening. This new center is being funded by a local lodging industry-supported and voter-approved 2% increase in transient occupancy tax in 2016. It is an exciting time for a center that our entire community supports for the benefit of locals and visitors alike.
The Parks and Recreation Commission is also tasked with the goal of equitable access to all parks facilities and is developing programs and services that will support access for all South Shore residents. We have a sub-committee working on programs that will allow for bike access, facility access and other benefits for all our residents.
Another area on which we will be concentrating is city park enhancements. Our commissioners believe that a New Master Plan for the Bijou Park area is vital to the future planning of the assets in this area, including incorporating golf course access, disc golf, bike/skate areas and other gathering opportunities. Regan Beach/El Dorado Beach service areas are also discussed at each of our meetings, and we support city parks staff in their mission to provide the best possible product for our locals and visitors with an eye towards future improvements at those beach areas.
Last, our commission will be continuing to be present at and support bike mobility and connectivity access throughout our community. With the help of former commissioner and bike guru Pete Fink, we are continuing to promote our bike paths, connectors, and best practices for path maintenance.
Not to be forgotten, our parks and Recreation staff — led by Director Lauren Thomaselli, Kelley Edwards and James Steed — are great assets and have been working very hard during these challenging COVID times. Distancing requirements, regulations, closures/reopening, and staffing challenges are daily hurdles.
As we move away from COVID restrictions, we still are seeing challenges attracting lifeguards and staff to keep our recreation areas open full hours. We encourage qualified interested persons to apply and hope to see you out at the city parks and recreation facilities.
For updates on all things parks and recreation or for staff contact information, visit http://www.cityofslt.us/recreation.
Jerry Bindel is a South Lake Tahoe resident, general manager of Forest Suites Resort and member of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
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