Property was recently sold |

Property was recently sold

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

What a welcome to the neighborhood.

The 155 acres the California Tahoe Conservancy bought in May from Jack VanSickle valued at $3.8 million was up in flames Wednesday.

The conservancy wants to turn the property under the Heavenly Gondola into a state park, which would create the first bistate park on the California-Nevada border.

The CTC property runs alongside 500 acres VanSickle donated to Nevada State Parks as a namesake park in 1989. Since VanSickle managed stables, a dozen structures — one a 140-year-old barn — sit on the California side under the Heavenly Gondola.

Blankets and pads lay strewn in one of the structures where it appeared transients settled near Ground Zero of the holiday fire.

“This area has a transient population that comes up here. We patrol it at times,” Program Manager Bruce Eisner said, touring the site at the fire command post and from Saddle Road to track the advancing blaze.

“We’re lucky it happened this time of year because the trees have got a lot of green growth,” Eisner said.

The steep slopes make it an environmentally sensitive area and the history behind the structures makes it suitable for public access.

“There’s a lot of rich history there,” Eisner said. “It would be a unique setting for how people recreate here. It has these views, and you would never know you’re so close to the hotels and casinos.”

Eisner said the conservancy would like to put hiking facilities on the premises and turn the 2,400-square-foot barn into an interpretative center, if it’s suitable for restoration.

The city of South Lake Tahoe is still negotiating with VanSickle over easements relative to redevelopment.

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