By Jim Robins | Special to Moonshine Ink
A new home for Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Area will be one step closer to being realized if the board of directors of the Tahoe City Public Utility District approves the Schilling Lodge proposal at a special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25. The project being considered will adaptively reuse a historic home donated to the nonprofit Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Education Association (TCCESA) as the centerpiece of a new multi-use lodge.
“Having a ‘new’ lodge near the high school will set Tahoe XC up to better serve our youth programs and the community,” Ben Grasseschi, Tahoe XC executive director, said. “The old house exudes charm and warmth and Tahoe XC will foster that vibe in the new space as well. Plus, it will allow us to function much more efficiently as a year-round recreation area.”
TCCSEA received the house as a donation from its Rubicon Bay owner to save a part of Tahoe history.
The 1930s home was built by the Pennoyer and Schilling Families, and will be the heart of the new lodge. After the donation, the attractive wood building was painstakingly dismantled and put in storage while the ski area began the lengthy process of getting approval to build the lodge.
Since that time, TCCSEA has created a project focused on the common areas of the old house. The living room, dining room, and kitchen will be a welcoming centerpiece for the family of skiers and summer trail users that enjoy the North Shore’s best trail system. The former bedrooms, tucked into the steeply pitched roof on the second floor, will offer staff space, and a new large basement will store the recreation equipment that currently sits outside.
An addition to the building addresses the most critical flaw of the current facility: the need for a rental space large enough to accommodate existing ski and bike rental operations. Other features are a parking lot sized to eliminate the need for dangerous roadside parking, lockers for season pass holders, and a team room for our youth programs.
The Schilling Lodge will provide skiers, hikers, mountain bikers, and small community groups with an upgraded and enhanced experience. Part of that enhancement will result from relocating the lodge to a parcel directly adjacent to the middle/high school building. This location offers direct, level access to beginner ski trails, much more suitable than the steep hill leading up from the current location. It will also provide more direct access to higher, more advanced terrain that holds snow longer in the season, as well as move the activity associated with a public recreation facility to a more remote location in the neighborhood. The environmental impact report prepared for the project details the effects of moving existing and modest increased use to a new location. The EIR does not identify any significant impacts that cannot be mitigated.
Throughout the 20-plus years of its existence, it is clear that Tahoe XC is an important part of the community. That feeling became even stronger over the last year as COVID restrictions and dispersed recreation spaces became vital outlets for safe physical activity. The best opportunity to secure the long-term survival of the Nordic skiing center depends on strengthening the current year-round recreation emphasis. The new lodge project is vital to that survival. To support it and find out more information, go to tcpud.org/capital-improvement-projects/tahoe-cross-country-lodge-replacement-and-expansion.
~ After moving to Tahoe in 1975, Jim made his first Nordic turns touring Blackwood Canyon and then at Tahoe Nordic. He has served on the board since 1999 as a founding member and is currently board president.
There is another side of this that needs to be heard.
The local residents of the Highlands Community do not want this new lodge in the location Jim and his cronies on the TCPUD board picked. It isn’t a ‘Not In My Back Yard’ NIMBY argument though. The reasons are we want to keep our children safe and the students at North Tahoe School safe.
This is a child and student safety issue. Polaris Road is already busy. It is used by students walking, biking, skateboarding, and even simulated XC skiing on their way to and from school. There are dozens of full-time and part-time residents on Polaris Road with school-age children.
-There are also cars driving by at over 50mph every day – the speed limit is 25
-There is an active Placer County petition that has been approved for a traffic study with speed control measures to be adopted on Polaris Road
-Polaris Road is already at 70-80% of its maximum rated daily traffic
-The high school has no other entrance/exit – any hazard or blockage of Polaris Road cuts off the students and faculty/staff. It is in a, according to Placer County Zoning, ‘Very High Fire Severity Zone’
The current plan is to allow events late into the evening, every weekend in the summer, where alcohol is served and then there is no Uber, cabs or mass transit to get people home. This is a recipe for motor vehicle homicide and DUIs.
This is an environmental issue. Site A (Current Location) has been deemed by the Final Environmental Impact Report to be a lower impact on every measure than Site D, Polaris Road.
-Fewer Trees Eliminated
-Better traffic distribution
-Closer to major roads with less residential noise/traffic impact
-Existing ground cover maintained, no new pavement for 100+ cars
This is a community preservation issue. The Highlands is a neighborhood, mostly a primary home neighborhood. Making arbitrary decisions that prioritize the wants of a local non-profit over the needs of the tax-paying residents seems at odds with the charter of TCPUD
This is a zoning issue. Sites B and C were eliminated because they were going to use residentially zoned land. Site D, where the lodge sits, is Recreationally Zoned. However, the roadway into Site D was sited through two Residentially Zoned lots (3001 and 3005 Polaris Road)
Jim, the author of the puff piece above, has a vested interest in seeing his TXC grow. He is prioritizing his wants for 76′ of elevation gain and a flatter starting surface over the needs of the Highlands Community, the students of North Tahoe School, the parents and faculty staff, and the kids who live along the already busy street.