Friday, July 10, 2009

Van Sickle bi-state park

4/09 Tahoe Mt. News... unedited
By Kathryn Reed

With trail and roadwork expected to start this summer, the Van Sickle Bi-state Park near Stateline is expected to be open to the public July 4, 2010.
The 725-acre park – 150 in California, 575 in Nevada – is in the permitting stage and is expected to be on the agendas of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and South Tahoe Public Utility District boards this month. The first phase could go out to bid in May.
With California bond money still mired in muck in Sacramento, the California Tahoe Conservancy is not able to pony up cash for the project. If those funds are released this building season, additional work will have likely been written into the bid or a change order may be necessary.
Because the Nevada trailhead has to be accessed in the Golden State, the granting of easements and rights-of-ways is allowing Nevada to start the project with its 1997 voter approved dollars.
Steve Weaver, chief of planning and development with the Nevada Division of State Parks, has been part of the project since the late Jack Van Sickle donated the Nevada portion of the park in his father Henry’s honor in 1988. The California Tahoe Conservancy bought the California parcel.
Henry Van Sickle was toll master of Kingsbury Grade in the 1850s. Pony Express riders came by his place in the Carson Valley. The old barn that is part to the current park used to be located in the nearby Village Center.
“The barn has been structurally stabilized as well as the log cabin. The barn goes back to the 1860s. It’s one of the oldest structures in the basin,” Weaver said. “It was relocated in about 1960 by Jack (Van Sickle). The building is still historically significant.”
A study determined it was better to the leave the barn where it is.
California State Parks has restored the nearly 100-year-old cabin.
The four-phase project (five if one counts phase one being broken into two parts) includes possibly using the barn as an interpretive center.
The master plan also calls for a visitors center near the barn.
The barn and other structures are visible from Heavenly’s gondola. A gate where Heavenly Village Way hits the intersection of Lake Parkway and Montreal Road blocks access to the property.
Infrastructure is the focus of the initial phase – an access road, underground utilities.
The trailhead that will begin in Nevada via the road that starts in California will have a restroom and a few picnic tables
Flush toilets, parking, picnic sites and an interpretive area is slated for the barn area.
The trial will be open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. It is likely to be mulch to begin with, but may be paved in the future. The proposed Meyers to Stateline bike trail is expected to terminate near the bi-state park, so the trails all connect.
Existing four-wheel drive trials will be used as connector trails for horses. After all, the main use of the property for the last 100 years was for equestrians.
The Tahoe Rim Trail Association in the next couple of years is planning to connect its system to the Nevada side of the park. That board has agreed to fund the operation of the trail, which Weaver estimates will be $7,000 a year.
Winter use is up in the air.
“There is the possibility there could be some cross country skiing in the future. More than likely it will be gated. That doesn’t mean (in the future) you can’t go back there and do some cross country skiing,” Weaver said.
Weaver may be retired by the time the park is dedicated, but he is planning to be there next year.

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