Dreyfus estate won’t come down | RecordCourier.com
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Dreyfus estate won’t come down

by Sheila Gardner

Nevada’s congressional delegation received assurance Friday that the U.S. Forest Service won’t demolish the 10,000-square foot Dreyfus mansion at Lake Tahoe.

“I just talked with (USFS Director) Jim Lyons earlier this afternoon, and he said tearing down the mansion just isn’t an option,” said Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada.

“It’s good news for Nevada and good news for Douglas County,” said Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nevada.

“The frenzy has been, and rightly so, that somehow those buildings would be torn down. The bottom line is that’s not an option,” Bryan said from his Washington office. “We don’t have an agreement yet. The Forest Service will try to work with the Park Cattle Co.”

The Minden-based Park Cattle Co. bought the nine-bedroom Dreyfus mansion in 1997, planning to turn the 15-year-old residence into a conference center. The $3 million home, formerly owned by New York mutual fund tycoon Jack Dreyfus, sits on Forest Service land on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

The Forest Service had refused to issue Park a special use permit to operate the conference center, pending a criminal investigation into a $38 million land swap involving the mansion and 46 acres of property.

The investigation cleared Park Cattle Co. and Forest Service officials of any wrongdoing, but the mansion’s future was clouded by rumors that the USFS planned to tear it down because the Park proposal was not in the best interest of the public.

Gibbons said he and Bryan worked closely with the Forest Service.

“The Forest Service has shown good common sense and good public relations with regard to this issue. I give a great deal of credit to Sen. Bryan,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons said he and Bryan would follow up Friday’s conversation with Lyons with a letter “to confirm their (USFS) commitment.”

Gibbons said he hopes to tour the estate later this summer.

Bruce Park, president of the Minden-based Park Cattle Co., said Friday he met earlier in the week with Forest Service representatives, but had been asked to keep details of negotiations confidential.

“We’re attempting to work it out,” Park said.

His attorney, Gordon DePaoli, said Forest Service representatives assured him that no final decisions had been made regarding the fate of the mansion.

“The result of that meeting was an agreement the Park Cattle Co. would make a written proposal to the Forest Service on how the Park Cattle Co. will likely proceed with the mansion, and the Forest Service would respond in writing. We’re certainly encouraged that they have made no decision that the improvements (buildings) would be taken down,” DePaoli said.

Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner said Friday he was happy with the way negotiations were going.

“I am pleased that the determination of Douglas County to preserve the mansion for public use was augmented by the muscle of Sen. Bryan and Congressman Gibbons and their unfailing support of Douglas County’s intense focus. The next step is the most critical and this is to make the land and the buildings available for public use,” Miner said.

“This will require a special use permit from the Forest Service. It is absolutely necessary for the Forest Service to issue an interim special use permit to remove all conflicts to public access. Right now, you can’t use the buildings, and can’t have access for meetings or conferences,” Miner said.

He said the Dreyfus estate was the first choice for President Clinton’s 1997 summit at the Lake, but because of the issue of ownership, Incline Village was selected.

“This is such an exquisite site,” he said. “It would be an excellent site for the second anniversary of the presidential visit.”

Miner said Douglas County is interested in developing part of the acreage as public access to the Lake.

“It certainly fits our long-term desire to have Douglas County residents given access to Lake Tahoe other than through existing concessionaires,” Miner said.