Truckee’s Vet’s Hall, the 1940s domed structure that sits on some of the most hallowed historical land in town, will have its future decided by the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District Board at a July 25 meeting.

Friends of the Veteran’s Hall, a community group comprised of a Washoe tribe representative, artists, athletes, and thespians, emphasize that the hall is a monument and facility for veterans, and will recommend at the meeting that usage remain equitable for all groups and individuals. “We’ll try to put more contract classes, and do more special events,” said TDRPD Recreational Superintendent Dan O’ Gorman, who is also a member of the community group. “All of those options are open.”

The friends group will present a written policy statement clarifying scheduling, marketing, and fees for the veteran’s hall in order to make the space easier to use, and therefore make it more rentable to the public. “One of the biggest things about Vet’s Hall is that it’s locked up,” said Friends of Vet’s Hall community member Nicole Martin. “Not one time was it open for them to take a peek.”

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Friends of Vet’s Hall’s meetings, which are open to the public, have been a part of an 18-month long conversation about the facility that started in 2011. The group formed organically back in March to represent the Truckee community as a whole.

The TDRPD board recommended the group not be officially recognized as a district-appointed group, said Martin, to remove extra hoops the Brown Act would have required them to jump through. Friends of Vet’s Hall agreed.

Over the course of the last few months, community members have suggested using the facility to host indoor soccer, educational plays, and guest speakers. “I would like to see educational plays that tell the stories of the Washoe, the Chinese, and the pioneers,” said Lydell Wyatt, who is representing the Washoe tribe at meetings.

Another suggestion was from Friends of Vet’s Hall member Rolf Godon, who cannot find a place in town to go dancing. Back in the ’70s, Godon remembers taking his girlfriend, who later became his wife, to attend dances at Vet’s Hall. “They put on several sock hops ’50s style, we dressed to that era, had a great time dancing and socializing and even had best dressed judging,” said Godon. But parties like that are not likely to happen in the future.

“Due to noise complaints and size restriction, we do not have parties like that up here,” said O’Gorman at a meeting.

Transforming the space into a standing art history museum was also discussed. If the community supported the idea of the museum, Wyatt would gladly bring in old willow baskets from the 1800s or hand-carved, wooden clubs to put on display from his personal collection of Washoe artifacts. “I have artifacts that I would be willing to set up,” said Wyatt.

There is a need in the community for both, said Karl Pape, who is a member of both the Truckee Donner Historical Society and Friends of Vet’s Hall, but these options unfortunately cancel each other out. For example, a museum would prohibit the possibility of playing indoor soccer, and vice-versa.

TDRPD has reported that in the last two fiscal years, there has been a decrease in operation of the building due to the opening of the Truckee Community Recreation Center in December 2009. As a result, the district contemplated selling the hall to Tahoe Forest Church last November. Public outcry against the sale convinced the district in March to reconsider public uses of the building, which could increase revenue and provide new public activities.

“The whole point of stopping negotiations with the church was to hear what the community really wanted,” said Kristin York, chairman of the TDRPD board.

While community members may still disagree on use of the space, they agree that the Vet’s Hall’s historical significance and prime location make it a unique space that should remain open for public use.

“I would personally like to see it utilized by the whole community,” said Truckee resident Angele Thibodeau.

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