The Incline Ice Foundation has raised almost $750,000 to build a rink in Incline Village/Crystal Bay. On Tuesday, the group found out its goal can finally be realized - with a giant asterisk attached.
Members of the Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the branch of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency formed to review interior-remodel projects for the casinos on the Nevada side of the basin, approved preliminary plans from members of the Incline Ice Foundation and Crystal Bay Club owner Roger Norman to build an ice rink and multi-use concert and event facility above his casino's parking garage.
The euphoria didn't last long for the group or Norman, who said Friday, "This project's far from getting off the ground."
TRPA officials agreed, explaining that the ice rink group, in conjunction with Norman, will face a number of "the requisite regulations" before the project is built.
"Basically, the NTRPA was asked to determine if the other uses Norman proposes are viable," TRPA communications director Julie Regan said. "This is the first step. The requirement is that we look at all of the proposed uses, not just the ice rink."
Norman said it will cost more than $650,000 to bring the top of his casino's parking garage up to TRPA "code." But he said the facility would not only be a good thing for the Incline Ice Foundation, but also for the community.
"We're looking at a 500-seat venue, and I have been contacted by a number of organizations including Parasol, Boys & Girls Club, Lake Tahoe School, farmers market as well as the (people in charge of) the food and wine festival and 'Shakespeare' about using the rooftop as a possible venue," Norman said.
"This has to be a year-round event center. There's a need in the area, and anything less doesn't work for everyone involved," he added.
Regan said TRPA "anticipates a feasible and workable plan from Norman," but would give no word as to what avenue the agency would take when it comes to the project's approval - one that she acknowledged would be "precedent-setting" for Tahoe Basin.
"Absolutely, we'll be looking at the plans closely," Regan said. "It has a lot to do with Lake Tahoe issues relating to gaming and use of space going forward. Because this is change of use, it's going to have to be reviewed carefully."
Norman, in turn, said he realized his plans, regardless of their benefit to the community, would be scrutinized. He said any proposed plans would be handled in a "responsible" way.
"If we get down to the wire and this isn't going to happen, we'll let people know. Then they've got to go in a different direction," Norman said. "We're at the very beginning of this planning. It is important to foremost communicate with our neighbors and get their feedback. We'll take their interest or any concerns to heart and go from there."