Issues face downtown Markleeville

Alpine County Supervisor Don Jardine hosted a Saturday morning meeting for voters of District 1, Feb. 11, at the county administration building to discuss the future of Markleeville. At the request of Jardine, Alpine County Director of Public Works Dennis Cardozza also was in attendance.

First, Jardine announced that the visitor center would not be moving in the near future.

"On Feb. 10, I talked with President of the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce Dave Johnson, who told me that a number of issues had come up, and that the visitor center is not going to move now."

Residents mentioned that they consider the intersection of Montgomery and Highway 89 in Markleeville to be dangerous not only for pedestrians, but also for vehicles.

Cardozza and Jardine have been mulling over possible solutions to the problem, including angling parked cars 45 feet from that corner, painting cross walks, and installing warning strobe lights under the pavement. Jardine vowed to designate this problem as high priority on his list of projects.

Another problem is speeding on Hot Springs Road to town.

"I have asked Public Works for an engineering and traffic survey, so that the California Highway Patrol and the sheriff's department can enforce the speed limits on Hot Springs Road and other roads in Alpine County," Jardine said.

Jardine said funds from Sierra Pacific Power have been set aside to put the powerlines underground on Highway 89 through Markleeville.

"Public Works is working with the California Department of Transportation for the permit to put powerlines under the highway," he said. "Public Works also is going to search for other funds to establish sidewalks, walkways across the two bridges in town, and street lights. I would like to have this project done this year in late fall."

Alpine County, through grants writer Lynn Nolan, has applied for $1.1 million from Proposition 50 funds for water line replacement in Markleeville.

"We have passed the first 'cut,' and we'll find out in July if this grant will pass the second 'cut,'" Jardine said.

A major change for Markleeville will transpire when the U.S. Forest Service moves from their long-familiar place alongside Markleeville Creek.

The Forest Service is working with the Bureau of Land Management to acquire land at Turtle Rock Park and is planning to move their facility there.

"It looks like construction may begin this year," Jardine said.

Now Alpine County is working to buy back the Forest Service site in Markleeville and is working on a restoration plan. Resident Nancy Thornburg remembers that when the Forest Service acquired the property from the county, they paid a grand total of $10.

Public Works Director Cardozza envisions that the site could become an attractive day-use area park, with a new visitor center located above the flood zone.

Supervisor Jardine also mentioned the need for a new Law Enforcement Center due to a number of issues.

"Alpine County has developed a Facility Strategic Plan, and the Law Enforcement Center has first priority," Jardine said. "Sheriff John Crawford has received funds from the State of California, and Alpine County has used these funds to purchase land in Markleeville for this facility."

The sheriff now has $991,000 for this project in trust, and we are expecting another $500,000 from the State of California Rural Sheriff's Funds to help out. Draft plans have been put together.

The possibility of building the new facility at Turtle Rock Park has been brought up at one staff meeting. There are a number of negative and positive issues with that idea: A county department would be moving out of the county seat, security at the court house, county employees not working in town, but more parking available for businesses. All of this could be happening within five years.

Jardine said he feels that the Historic Design Review Ordinance needs to be updated and clarified, as did the majority of the audience, since there are a number of projects in the works.

Along those lines, the Alpine County Planning Department has announced the Notice of Availability and Public Meeting of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Mahalee Lodge/Markleeville Village Project. Copies of the DEIR are available for public review at the following locations during normal business hours: Alpine County Planning Department, Alpine County Clerk's Office and the Alpine County Library.

In addition, the DEIR may be viewed and/or downloaded from the planning department document page of the Alpine County Web site:

The official description of the proposed project from the Alpine County Planning Department is: "A mixed use project including commercial, lodging, residential and open space areas; and infrastructure including new roads, a community water system and a new on site wastewater treatment system all located on approximately 36 acres in Markleeville. Proposed land uses include a lodging facility with 25 guest rooms, restaurant, conference center, day spa/wellness center and outdoor swimming pool; 49 detached residential dwellings, each containing approximately 1,600 square feet of living space proposed for fractional ownership; and up to 50,200 square feet of mixed use commercial and residential units in up to 13 separate buildings. The proposed project is located in Markleeville, Calif."

The public meeting to obtain additional information about the DEIR is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 2 at Turtle Rock Park, 17300 Highway 89, Markleeville.

n Gina Gigli is a Markleeville resident.


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