unedited Oct. Tahoe Mt. News story
By Kathryn Reed
Construction could begin in the spring to revitalize El Dorado Beach, including the pedestrian-bike trail and day use area.
This is the first phase of what has been known as the 56-acre project. It has been renamed Lakeview Commons. The dictionary definition of commons is “a tract of land belonging to or used by the community as a whole.”
The emphasis of the project since its infancy has been to create a place for locals that tourists might also enjoy. The initial phase is 4.7 acres, with 3.6 acres of that being touched by construction. The remaining acreage on the mountain side of the highway includes Campground by the Lake, library, city rec complex and other established uses.
One might say Lakeview Commons is in its toddler years as it begins to show real personality. Complete build out is anticipated for 2017.
What’s going on?
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff requested clarification on the original permit application that was filed Aug. 8. Answers were submitted earlier this month. The TRPA has 30 days to review that information.
California Tahoe Conservancy funded the planning phase and has set aside $8 million that could be used for construction. El Dorado County owns the two main parcels. South Lake Tahoe has a 55-year lease that expires in July 2023 for about 40 of the 56 acres. The lease can be extended if the use remains essentially the same.
The city owns more than 15 acres in the area. The lakefront area from Fremont Avenue to almost Rufus Allen is city property. A wedge next to it is owned by Inn by the Lake. El Dorado Beach is county property.
The initial phase of Lakeview Commons starts at Lakeview Avenue and goes to Rufus Allen Boulevard, and includes the shoreline to the highway.
An application is expected to be filed with the city’s planning department this month. Lahontan Water Board will be the next agency brought into the mix.
If permits are in hand, the plan is to go out for bid in late January or early February. The initial project could take one building season.
However, funds for the multimillion dollar project are not all in the bank. Grants will be sought as well as other revenue streams.
Caltrans is an integral player in this massive undertaking. The transportation gurus have for years had the Highway 50 project on the books. The Trout Creek to Ski Run Boulevard project, which encompasses Lakeview Commons, is in the design phase and should be in September 2009, with construction starting the next year.
The lakeside portion by El Dorado Beach is considered a water quality improvement project. Therefore Caltrans can’t dedicate dollars to sidewalk improvements there. The agency does have money for sidewalks and lights on the campground side.
Caltrans is responsible for the unsightly drain on the east edge of El Dorado Beach that transports unfiltered gunk from the highway into the Lake. The pipe is on city property and was put there via an easement.
As part of Caltrans’ 2010 construction project a water filtration system will be put in. One option is a Delaware Sand Filter. Caltrans spokeswoman Shelly Chernicki does not know if the old pipe will be removed, needed or replaced with something more aesthetically pleasing. Some sort of pipe will have to take the filtered water to the Lake.
The concept on the lakeside is to have the area terraced from the retaining wall to the sand. Access to the beach will not be steep like it is now. In the future people in wheelchairs, using walkers or those who don’t like stairs will be able to get to the water.
The terraced area will have seating and mountain vegetation.
“Toward the east end we are still pursing a cantilevered walkway to open that area … to eliminate the conflicting use on the bike path,” said Peter Eichar, CTC program analyst.
No changes will be made to the parking area, nor improvements made to the boat launch. Bike racks will be added. A bi-level concessionaire building and restroom will be erected that will include storage for non-motorized boats for private individuals.
“The important message is this project will be a model of sustainability and green design,” said Deb Vreeland, project manager. “It reflects the forward thinking of the city and county. It will be the signature project to initiate a new generation of building on the South Shore.”
The CTC board in December will be asked for money to further the planning in the campground area of Lakeview Commons. Those plans have not progressed since January when the City Council and county Board of Supervisors approved the initial concept. Those plans call for an amphitheater, possibly removing some campsites, moving the city’s corporation yard and county’s vector control, and creating walkways.
One concept is to move the weekly summer farmers market to Lakeview Commons. On Sept. 9 the City Council viewed a video of the San Luis Obispo market which incorporates more than just fresh veggies. Something in this vein is likely to be what South Tahoe’s market evolves into.
Jim Coalwell, who runs the local market, said he is in favor of this location. He envisions being able to expand the market’s offerings. He prefers a covered area because the winds in Tahoe can wreak havoc on the canopies the vendors use today.
On a side note, Coalwell said the market will be back at the American Legion Hall in 2009.