INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Despite opposition from many in Incline Village, the Tahoe Transportation District Board of Trustees voted on Friday to move forward with purchasing the old elementary school site to possibly use as a mobility hub.
TTD can purchase the site because of a protected acquisition grant from the Nevada Department of Transportation, meaning they were able to purchase the site because it was in danger of not being for sale much longer.
Washoe County School District confirmed receiving another unsolicited offer for the site but because it did not go through the public bidding process, it could not be considered yet, as per Nevada revised statute.
Purchase of the site for a possible mobility hub has been a contentious issue. Many community members, including Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Indra Winquest, say there are safety concerns with this site because of the apartment complex across the street. Other people are against a mobility hub anywhere in Incline Village.
TTD District Manager Carl Hasty has said many times that purchase of the site doesn’t mean the mobility hub has to be built there. Still, a listening session by TTD with the community as well as a change.org petition with over 1,200 signatures showed distrust with TTD and a feeling that purchase of the site means the hub is a done deal.
George Fink, transit system program manager with TTD, said the petition did not accurately reflect the process this potential project is going through. The project still needs to go through the proper analysis, including a site alternative analysis.
TTD board vice chair Lucia Maloney was shocked by the amount of distrust from the community and voted against the purchase.
“It’s clear the community doesn’t want this,” Maloney said during the meeting.
Another concern was raised by board member Cody Bass, who also voted against the purchase. If they went through with the purchase but found it wasn’t the right site, the district could get saddled with the property for many years while trying to sell it. And while trying to sell the property, if another site became available, the district likely wouldn’t get another grant to purchase it.
TTD could receive a second grant from NDOT to demolish the old school and board member Steve Teshara said demolition of the school could increase property value if they needed to sell it.
Board member and Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill, who represents Incline Village, was in favor of the purchase.
“It’s irresponsible not to go forward with this purchase,” Hill said, adding an opportunity like this won’t come around again. “We don’t know where this process will take us but we do know there are real needs for this community.”
The Washoe County Commission will need to decide on matching funds for the project, which Hill said she will push for. And while a mobility hub is important for the community, she said it could be considered for other uses, such as a new sheriff’s station, workforce housing or a town center.
The Washoe County matching funds would come from the WC1 account which is a one-quarter cent sales tax to be used for police and fire personnel, and equipment necessary to carry out essential duties, as well as provide the capital costs necessary for constructing, operating and maintaining public safety facilities.
Incline resident Aaron Katz told the board this was not a proper use of WC1 funding and threatened a lawsuit. TTD legal counsel was not concerned about the legality of the use of that funding.
Several other board members said they were voting yes because they were also afraid of losing the NDOT funding. The purchase passed with Bass and Maloney providing the only no votes.
Pending Washoe County providing matching funds, Fink said site alternative analysis will be conducted from April or May to December 2021 and project planning could start early 2022.
To learn more about the potential project, visit http://www.inclinevillagemobilityhub.org.