Homeowners propose closing Old Clear Creek Road
Homeowners along Old Clear Creek Road say that on the advice of their attorney, they will put a gate up to block access to the upper portion of the road due to the liability they face.
“Our attorney has said that all property owners along that road have a huge liability exposure,” said Michael Arnold, who has lived in the area since 1999. “We’ve all had a number of close calls, myself included.”
Arnold, who is on the watershed protection district and is leader of his area’s Fire Safe Council, said it would be only a matter of time before a serious accident occurred. He said he generally drives reasonably slowly on the road, but most people don’t. He said he came around a blind corner not too long ago and a group of bicyclists riding three abreast was not paying attention.
“I stopped not more than five feet in front of them. It scared the hell out of all of us,” he said.
The homeowners’ attorney said they had only three options:
• Get the state to take over the road
• Get the city to take over the road
• Close the road
Arnold, who said he has researched the ownership history of the road, said it was originally part of the Lincoln Highway and then old Highway 50 East. When the Nevada Department of Transportation built the four-lane Spooner Summit highway, the three owners of public property on the road – Carson City, Douglas County and the Washoe Tribe – did not want it, so ownership reverted to the Clear Creek area property owners.
“It is not a public access road. It never has been,” he said. “That’s the reason for so much misunderstanding.”
The gate is necessary because trespassers simply ignore the posted “Private property” signs.
The Washoe Tribe also has major concerns because people are using and abusing their sacred land, and a number of homeless people camp in the canyon and build fires, Arnold said.
The Carson City Open Space Advisory Committee is adamantly opposed to closing the road to non-motorized users of public lands adjacent to the road.
“We would like it to be open to non-motorized users like walkers, joggers, hikers, bicyclists and equestrian use,” Bruce Scott, a member of the committee, said last month.
Another resident, Bob Cook, said that of the 33 homeowners who live along Old Clear Creek Road, all but a small handful support closing the road completely to all traffic.
He said in addition to an ongoing graffiti problem, people use the road to dump old refrigerators and even an entire old roof to avoid landfill fees. And they change their oil, draining it right onto the ground
He also cited problems with the narrow road itself, including no guard rails, blind curves and pot holes, as well as people who use the area to drink or do drugs or as a lover’s lane.
One cost estimate to bring the road up to code, he said, was over $1 million.
“We have put boulders in the road, and people just move them aside. We had three fires up there last year,” Cook said.
He said the gate is ready to install, pending approval from the Washoe Tribe.
“Our hands are tied. It only takes one person to sue,” he said.
Members of the Carson City Open Space Committee are scheduled to authorize chairman Steve Hartman to sign a letter directed to the Regional Transportation Commission and the Board of Supervisors on behalf of the committee expressing the importance of maintaining access on Old Clear Creek Road into the adjacent public lands.
The meeting is at 6 p.m. today in the Sierra Room of the community center. Go to http://www.carson-city.nv.us/ to download an agenda and a complete information packet.