Working together on a civic center |

Working together on a civic center

Ted Long

The concept of local, regional and even state government coming together to share facilities and expenses not only makes financial sense but may be one of those issues in government that also makes ‘common sense.’

The city of Lake Tahoe and the Lake Tahoe Unified School district have already declared their intentions to work together, to find a way to improve their efficiency and to save their taxpayers money by joining together. We are optimistic that the county will join us and that there is a possibility of the state (highway patrol), the area transit management and various utility companies joining us to make an even greater breakthrough in cooperation.

As I see it, and following up on the comments of the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s closing editorial comment (“Realizing centralized government,” Nov. 25), “Now let’s make sure they follow through and make it happen.” It is necessary to break the process down to a few simple but necessary beginning steps.

First, is the expression of intention by the various governing bodies, a clear statement and direction by each agency to accomplish the goal, a directive to their respective staffs to come together and work out the details.

From this, an inventory of current assets is needed, for example the city has property in various locations that could be sold as we consolidate our efforts, the county owns the El Dorado Center, prime commercial property on Highway 50 already occupied by some private business. This should be sold with the proceeds dedicated to the new facilities. The resulting return to the tax roles of all these properties benefits all the agencies with an increase in their share of the property tax.

Potential locations need to be reviewed and a choices made, soundly but quickly. The most obvious location on the table at the moment is the Al Tahoe Boulevard land owned by the school board. What is its value and how is the school board to be compensated? Where should the new, state of the art maintenance facilities be located? The Tahoe Valley Plan lends an opportunity to create a true industrial center for the area, housing this join facility.

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Each agency should begin an inventory of their needs, how much space? Special needs? Those inventories should then be examined by space experts that can sort out the duplications, for example all the agencies have a need for meeting space but seldom are all their independent spaces in use at the same time. Phone systems, copy machines and the other office functions should be reviewed, and duplications eliminated.

As each agency contemplates its resources, its contributions and its needs, a space planning specialist should be invited to submit proposals and we could hold a design contest, a bidding amongst building designers to select, under public view, the best most economical design for our new civic center. Can we, should we, include new commercial space for residence convenience and to add income to our financially strapped agencies? What about social and recreational opportunities?

It is my experience if you are going to make something happen, from an idea to reality, you need a plan and a person responsible for seeing that the plan is carried out. Without taking the first steps nothing will happen, and like so many things time goes by and years later another person or group will come up with this “good idea” that should have been carried out years ago. The plan can always be corrected, amended, but let’s get started.

– Ted Long sits on the South Lake Tahoe City Council.