Ponderosa Ranch deal loping along | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ponderosa Ranch deal loping along

Jack Carrerow

INCLINE VILLAGE – The deal between the owners of the Ponderosa Ranch and a consortium of local and state government agencies is progressing smoothly, according to Jacques Etchegoyhen of Terra Firma, the agency helping with the negotiations.

“All the agencies involved in the deal are working quite well together,” Etchegoyhen said. “For a project this size, I’d say that it’s moving along quickly.”

Etchegoyhen added that, even with the deal in the works, the publicity generated around the world has brought inquiries from several interested parties.

“We average about a phone call a day from people interested in buying the property,” Etchegoyhen said. “That’s to be expected when you’re looking to sell probably the most famous ranch property in the world.”

Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Bill Horn, whose agency took the first step in the negotiations by presenting Terra Firma with a conditional letter of intent to purchase up to nine of the 21 parcels that make up the entire ranch property, said that while all the agencies have been exploring their options separately, it really is a collaborative effort.

“We’re in constant contact with the other entities involved and I think it’s really coming along,” Horn said.

Mike Wolterbeek, public information officer for Washoe County, said that the county staff is hard at work exploring funding options that would allow for the purchase.

“Everyone (the government agencies) knows what everyone needs to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Wolterbeek said. “Now, it’s just a matter of finding the economic resources to bring it to fruition.”

Washoe Commissioner Jim Galloway suggested the county might consider a quarter-cent sales tax to raise the money needed for their part of the purchase.

Although Galloway could not be reached for comment, he said Tuesday that voters could be asked to support a sales tax for open space, as well as for historic preservation and parks.

“If they (the voters) are agreeable, the county could ask the state legislature to impose the tax and designate its use,” Galloway said.

This could prove successful, based on a poll of 600 county voters taken in April, that showed 60 percent of those surveyed would support a tax hike to obtain more open space.

Steve Robinson, Natural Resource Advisor for Gov. Kenny Guinn, said money is also the hurdle the state was looking to clear.

“The governor is very interested in the opportunity to purchase the ranch for it’s conservation and open space possibilities,” Robinson said. “But he’s also keeping a close eye on the accounting aspect of the deal and like all the other agencies involved, the funding has to be found.”

Robinson said that Guinn feels positive about the negotiations, especially how the collaborative effort is going.

“He (Guinn) is very encouraged and pleased at how all these agencies can work together for the common good of the citizens of the state,” Robinson said.

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