INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Despite concerns from Incline Village residents, the Washoe County School District voted to sell the old elementary school to Tahoe Transportation District.
The school, which has sat empty since 2003, sold for $2.35 million. TTD plans to demolish the old building and possibly use the site as a mobility hub.
Community members have repeatedly said they did not think a mobility hub was the best use for the site and County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler has also been outspoken against the deal as has Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Indra Winquest.
“That’s a challenging part of town for a transportation hub,” Winquest told the Tribune. “I have safety concerns with that area.”
Winquest is referring to the townhouses across the street and the amount of children that play in that area.
Prior to the sale, some residents had asked IVGID to step in, however, in 2019 the IVGID Board of Trustees voted to not purchase the property.
“The most promising discussions arose from the district’s long-time association and partnership with the Incline Village General Improvement District,” supporting documents in the WCSD agenda packet stated. “Following several meetings with district staff, IVGID staff identified the property as an ‘Opportunity Site’ with possible uses including soccer fields, a dog park, bocce courts, picnic pavilions and a playground. In February 2019, the IVGID Board of Trustees declined to move forward with the district’s offer to sell the property for $2,000,000.”
TTD raised funding from the Nevada Department of Transportation for the purchase and sees the mobility hub as a great opportunity to work towards completion of the regional transit plan.
“We’ve got a huge demand in Tahoe, demand is not diminishing and everyone in cars is not sustainable,” said TTD Executive Director Carl Hasty.
Community members have felt a lack of transparency from TTD and a deafness to their concerns.
“One thing missing from this whole equation is that our community has not been involved at all,” said trustee candidate Frank Wright during a community forum. “To me it looks like it’s being rammed down our throats, and I don’t think that’s the way it should be done.”
The community has also asked the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to step in but communications manager Jeff Cowen said their hands are tied until TTD applies for the permits.
“We’ve heard the community loud and clear,” Cowen said. “We know what this project is sounding like to the community. And we’ll review it for all the environmental purposes when it comes to us from TTD. So we’re not project proponents for this site until we get to a point where we see it meets all the criteria.”
Cowen also said TRPA is in support of a transit center somewhere in the region but the exact location is TTD’s decision to make.
Hasty told the Tribune there is no timeline for the project moving forward. The first step is to remove the old school, which Hasty thinks will take a while because of the age of the school, which was built in 1962, could have asbestos.
Hasty also said in addition to the environmental analysis, he will be holding forums with the community on possible dual uses for the site.
IVGID will also stay active on the issue.
“Although we have no jurisdiction, we are going to collaborate and make sure it is the best for the community,” Winquest said.