South Lake Tahoe moves forward with new recreation agreement
Talks of a new sports recreation agreement between Lake Tahoe Community College, the City of South Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Unified School District took steps forward Tuesday at a city council meeting.
The heart of a potential new joint powers agreement: rehabilitation of the current community ball field at LTCC and the construction of new ones in the future.
The city council voted unanimously to consider a new joint powers authority and earmark $1.2 million in funding for new community fields, with the condition that more outreach and details are provided.
LTCC and the city have been in discussions about how to tackle fulfilling a promise made to voters after the approval of Measure S in 2000. Measure R expanded its scope in 2011. The measures raised revenue to help build and maintain new recreation facilities and bike trails, including the community field.
City Manager Nancy Kerry said there were several benefits to a new formal JPA between the city, LTCC and LTUSD, including fulfilling the initial promise of multiple fields.
“The city now has an opportunity to deliver what was intended under Measure S,” Kerry said.
A current joint powers agreement between El Dorado County, the city and Tahoe Paradise Resort oversees the budget from the Measure S/R revenue, including $50,000 a year to maintain the field.
A new JPA would allow LTCC to sink $1.1 million from its Measure F bond measure into the rehabilitation of the current field once an recreation easement has been established. The city would pitch in an additional $300,000.
Currently the city owns one portion, and the district the other portion.
LTCC’s board of trustees passed a resolution in June to allow this pending formation of an easement. The California Education Code requires the college to have legal authority in order invest bond funds in something.
Four fields were promised, though later assessment by the El Dorado County Counsel showed that would unlikely come to fruition.
LTCC has priority scheduling rights over the field, which it uses for its soccer program. In the winter, the city hosts the Snowglobe music festival there.
While LTCC takes point on the rehabilitation of the current field, the city would construct new fields in phases at $1.2 million, one of which would host future Snowglobe events.
Kerry said the city could fund it because its transit occupancy tax revenue, or hotel bed tax, came in above what was budgeted. LTUSD would raise funds for a baseball infield that overlaps the new fields.
Initial design concepts would allow the baseball field to overlap the two new community fields.
Neither the city or the college district would have legal obligations to fund construction or improvements of the field.
Kerry said new fields would increase the city’s capacity for additional sports and attract larger tournaments.
“Right now there is too much demand for one field,” Kerry said.
Additional benefits include the foundation for a recreation consortium identified in the city’s recreation master plan, improved mechanisms to handle the maintenance and operations of the fields, establishes a method to handle scheduling conflicts for the current field, and establishment of a central location for recreation.
“By putting more fields in, it identities Al Tahoe area of the school district, the college, a new bike park, and Bijou Park as the area for recreation in the community,” Kerry said.
While supportive of the concept, city council members had reservations, including more input from stakeholders across the board.
“Partnerships are memorialized by these JPAs, so we have to be very clear of anticipated consequences and what we really want,” Mayor Hal Cole said.
Councilman Tom Davis wanted a dispute resolution clause added to any new JPA in case issues come up.
Councilwoman JoAnn Conner called it a good start but still had a lot of ground to cover. She added the current JPA with the county, Tahoe Paradise and the city wouldn’t expire for another 15 years, and that all areas of the sports community should be at the table.
“The community was promised fields for youth play, not just high school and college team play,” Conner said.
Councilwoman Wendy David stressed the need for a long term solution that the proposed JPA could tackle, including the future recreation.
Kerry said nothing would be cemented until at least January, including legal framework and funding.
South Lake Tahoe resident Bill Crawford opposed the idea of a new JPA, citing it could be fraught with complications and flaws.
“I don’t know whether it’s a pipe dream or a nightmare,” Crawford said.
LTCC President Kindred Murillo agreed that the JPA was a delicate matter that should be properly addressed, but shouldn’t deter any entity from moving forward.
“Frankly, I feel very comfortable with the collaboration we have come to in this recommendation,” Murillo said. Should the current recreation JPA governing Measures S and R expire in 2030 without something to replace it, half of the current community field reverts to LTCC and the other to the city.
“That’s not a win for the community so what we are doing is trying to take a situation and make it a good one,” Murillo said. “I think everyone benefits out of this.”
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