The Town of Truckee’s plans for a 1.42-acre patch of dirt currently sidelining West River Street involve using most of it to provide a public riverfront park in downtown. And straddling the future 1.05 acres of park territory will be about .37 acres of river-oriented commercial development — at least that was the plan until Assembly Bill 1486 took effect at the beginning of this year.

Now, the fate of the West River Site’s edges, also known as the Old County Corp Yard at 10257 W. River St., rests upon the reply of a few local groups.

AB1486 requires the Town of Truckee, when disposing of surplus land, to send a notice of availability to housing sponsors (for affordable housing), the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District, the State Resources Agency (for open space), and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (for school construction or open space).

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“This was a change in the law for disposition of public property,” explained Hilary Hobbs, Truckee’s management analyst. “We’re now required … to make land available to those affordable housing developers [and others] before we begin negotiations with any other party for other uses.”

At a Jan. 28 meeting, the town council directed staff to move forward with the notice of availability, thus opening up what Hobbs said is “a 60-day window for any interested party on that list to respond … That period closes on March 30.”

The process allows the town to consider both the parties notified as required by AB1486 and other previously identified parties; in this case, former Truckee Mayor Joan deRyk Jones, Russell Jones, and Andy Barr.

The trio has been meeting with town staff since 2017 to discuss the possibility of two groups, 2A Ventures/Old Trestle Distillery (Barr) and Jones-Corda Construction/Truckee River Winery (Jones), as commercial partners on the West River Site. Negotiations thus far have taken place in closed sessions.

Though Joan deRyk Jones has served in a Truckee leadership capacity, Hobbs said her connections had nothing to do with the selection of the two groups.

“We had two interested parties and ultimately our selection committee was interested in both of them,” Hobbs furthered. “That was it. It is interesting [that she’s a former mayor], but that was who showed interest from a public call for interest.”

The implementation of AB1486 puts a pin in negotiations for now, but Hobbs doesn’t necessarily see it as a long-term problem for the development hopes of the Joneses and Barr because the parcels are so small: .12 and .25 acres.

“We do not think there will necessarily be anyone who jumps forward and is interested for those specific uses …,” she said, referring to the list of required parties. “It doesn’t seem this is necessarily the prime site for that use, but we could have some potential interest out there.”

The town has permanently called dibs on the remaining central 1.05 acreage, reserving it for a public park to connect nature with the downtown area. The park and a proposed bridge over the Truckee River would complement Truckee Donner Land Trust’s plans to purchase the Bright Property (or Truckee Springs), future open space.

Development of the West River Site will likely be done in phases, with the park up first.

“I anticipate that would be done in the next two years,” Hobbs said. “I don’t have a specific timeline on the development of those two sites we’re considering. There’s interest in moving forward in the next couple years, but there are many different components that go into timing of development, outside funding, [and] getting the project approved.”

A workshop focused specifically on downtown Truckee is being planned for the end of March, and additional updates and input opportunities on the West River Site will be part of the discussion.

Main Image Caption: PARKED OUT: Though the majority of the West River Site will serve as a riverfront park, the eastern and western fringes are in a waiting period, during which time the site is up for consideration as open space, affordable housing, or school usage, until March 30, abiding by California Assembly Bill 1486. Photo by Alex Hoeft/Moonshine Ink

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