Master Plan For
Tahoe Paradise Recreation and Park District
(formerly Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District)
Tahoe Paradise Park
Final: Approved 3/31/2016
Table of Contents
1. Introduction and Executive Summary
2. Historical Sketch of the District and Park
3. District and Park Governance
4. District and Park Finances
5. Human-Made Park Features
6. Park Natural Resources
7. District and Park Goals and Objectives
Introduction and Executive Summary
As Tahoe Paradise Park Improvement District celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1965, the board of directors of the district, in consultation with a small group of community volunteers, have determined that it is in the interest of the community and the park to develop a master plan. The broad purpose of the plan is to help the park better fulfill its mission as a recreational asset for the property owners and residents of the district and the broader community. After extensive discussions, the board established a Master Plan Committee to create a draft plan, subject to further community and board input.
The heart of the draft plan is a list of seven broad goals. Associated with each goal are
several more specific objectives, the completion of which should advance the goal. The seven goals are as follows:
1. Increase community involvement, activities, and programs
2. Conserve, protect, and enhance the park’s natural and human-made features
3. Enhance park maintenance and appearance
4. Enhance park governance and management
5. Enhance financial accountability and transparency
6. Increase revenue
7. Establish a project development and implementation plan
The board invites close examination of the seven goals and their associated objectives
and comments from all stakeholders.
Historical Sketch of the Park
Originally, the Washoe Tribe of Native Americans enjoyed the bounty of the forest, river, and meadows in the area now known as Tahoe Paradise Park. The Washoe referred to this area as “imgi watah,” which means “big trout water.” In the late nineteenth century the area was logged to feed the voracious appetite for lumber of the silver mining industry. And in the twentieth century, it was quarried for gravel.
The park itself has been in existence for nearly 50 years. It originated in 1965 through the establishment by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors of the Tahoe Paradise Park Resort Improvement District, and in 1968 by the transfer approximately 32 acres and a $300,000 endowment to the district by Tahoe Paradise Corporation. The donors intended the park to be a recreational resource for the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. In its early years the operations of the park were funded by interest earned on its trust funds and dues paid by users.
At its inception the park was managed by one park employee who lived on-site in a trailer during the summer. The park was closed in winter. Eventually, a residence was built for the park manager/caretaker allowing year-round care and supervision of the park. In 1975 the park purchased additional parcels of adjacent land to bring the park up to its current size of 53.5 acres. Most of the added acreage has been left in its natural state. The park built a recreation center at the north end of Lake Baron. Many long-time residents of the Meyers area recall the park as a hub of activity, filled with Meyers residents enjoying the water, sun, and sand at the north end of Lake Baron. A popular children’s wading pool occupied the area that is now a patio on the south side of the recreation building. A ball field occupied the lower section of the park, at the north end of the picnic area.
Obtaining adequate revenue has been an issue for the park. This problem was partially addressed in 2000 when voters passed “Measure S” establishing a community recreation facilities district comprising the Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and Areas of El Dorado County within the Tahoe Basin. The Community Recreation Facilities District, administered by a Joint Powers Authority, was authorized to sell $6,500,000 in bonds to construct and improve recreation facilities. The bonded indebtedness is being repaid with a small parcel tax on properties in community recreation facilities district. Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement received a lump sum and $50,000 per year until 2030. The park also has augmented its revenue by charging groups a fee for the use of the picnic area and for making its facilities available for events, especially weddings. It has also sought and received grants to improve its facilities.
District and Park Governance
Tahoe Paradise Park is governed and managed by the Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District (TPRID). The TPRID was established in 1965 by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors under the authority of Public Resources Code Section 13000, et seq. It is one of a handful of recreation improvement districts in California. As such it is subject to all state laws governing special districts of its type. Although the TPRID is not a county department, El Dorado County provides services to the district by receiving, holding, and disbursing park funds.
The district and park are governed by a five member board of directors who serve four-year terms. The County Supervisor for District 5 is an ex-officio, voting member of the board. Other seats are filled by election (in cases where more than one person is seeking a seat) or by appointment. Seats becoming vacant during a term are filled by appointment for the remainder of the term. Although there were several contested elections for board seats in the early years of the park, in recent years vacancies have been filled by appointment.
In addition to providing funds for the park, Measure S established a joint powers authority among El Dorado County, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and TPRID. One of the park’s directors is a voting member of the joint powers authority.
It has been the practice of the board to hold regular meetings monthly (fourth Thursday evening of the month). Special meetings are called when necessary. Board activities are subject to the “Brown Act” (California Government Code sec. 54950 et seq). Meeting notices and agendas are posted, meetings are open to the public, meeting minutes are kept, and district records are open records. The board operates under a set of-by laws.
The board of directors has considerable autonomy in governing the park. It sets park policies, procedures, regulations, bylaws, manages employees, establishes the annual budget, and approves expenditures. The board establishes subcommittees to advise it on special projects and tasks.
District and Park Finances
Tahoe Paradise Resort Improvement District (TPRID) and Tahoe Paradise Park originated in the mid-1960s as part of the development plans for the Meyers area of the Tahoe Paradise Corporation and its president, James Wilson. The corporation made an initial donation for the park of 32 acres and a sum of $300,000. The concept was that the interest on the endowment would support the park in perpetuity. While this may have been true initially, when interest rates declined, income was not sufficient to support park operations. Income was supplemented fees and dues paid by park users. Eventually, district directors spent a portion of the endowment to fund ongoing operations. An effort developed in the 1990s to generate revenue by placing a tax on properties in the district. Both ballot measures narrowly failed. In 2000 voters passed “Measure S” that created the South Tahoe Community Facilities Recreation District and levied an $18.00 parcel tax on properties in the district. An agreement was negotiated wherein TPRID would receive a minimum of $50,000 per year for operations until the year 2030, and a lump sum. While a great help, this, too, proved inadequate to fund the park.
Park finances were also augmented when the district received a grant of $220,000 from the 2002 Resources Bond Act. All the funds could not be immediately expended by the grant’s expiration in 2011. The legislature extended the grant, and the district successfully spent the funds on park projects by the final expiration date of June 30, 2015.
The park board, casting about for additional revenues, decided to develop the wedding business. The plan succeeded. In fiscal year 2014-15 gross rental receipts (mostly for weddings) were $25,000. However, some residents of the district perceived that the development of the wedding business was at the expense of programs and activities for locals. Changes in the membership of the board of directors brought these concerns to the fore. A major decision that the district board must make is how the relatively lucrative wedding business complements the park mission of serving the local community.
The simple fact is that a park the size and complexity of Tahoe Paradise Park cannot be operated on an annual budget of $50,000. Grants and donations will be sought, and will assist the park, but will not ensure its long-term sustainability. Inflation alone over 30 years has and will continue to erode the purchasing power of the $50,000 allocation from Measure S. Members of the community and board may eventually have to face the decision of whether they want to pay park usage fees, continue to rent out park facilities for weddings and other events, or increase property taxes to support the park.
At present, in the short-term, the finances of the park are sound. At the close of fiscal year 2014-15, the district had $154,000 in the Local Agency Investment Fund, the remains of the original endowment. It also had funds in the “Pooled Cash Equity” fund of approximately $213,000, some of which will be returned to the endowment, spent on capital improvements, spent on operations, or held as reserve.
Human-Made Features of the Park
Over the decades many features have been constructed at the park. Perhaps most important, and prominent, is Lake Baron itself, a shallow, nine acre lake dredged out of the old gravel pits that is fed by springs and seepage at the south end. The lake is contained on the west side by a large berm that runs almost its entire length. At the north end is an attractive recreation hall, surrounded by irrigated lawn, with restrooms and a simple kitchen. Attached to the hall is a large concrete patio overlooking the lake, with panoramic views of Echo Summit and Angora Ridge. In summer the patio is covered with a tent, and is the site of wedding receptions.
On the north side of East San Bernardino Ave. is a two bedroom, one bath residence that has been occupied by the park manager. Next to the residence is a large garage used for storage of park equipment and supplies. Just west of the residence is a small storage shed that formerly was a pump station for the South Tahoe Public Utility District.
East of the recreation building are three tennis courts. However, Court #1 has sustained large cracks and sink spots. It is currently unusable for tennis. Courts #2 and #3 are usable, but will soon need resurfacing. In recent months Courts #2 and #3 have been frequently used by persons playing pickle ball.
South of the tennis courts along the lake shore is a small, attractive gazebo surrounded by lawn. This area is frequently used for wedding ceremonies. Nearby, the east boundary of the park is lined by large boulders to prevent the incursion of unauthorized vehicles. The entrance to the park is on East San Bernardino Ave. The gate is opened at 8:00am and closed at sunset to maintain security in the park.
The lower park, along the bank of the Upper Truckee River, features a large picnic area with 22 concrete and wooden tables. Several of the tables have barbecue grills nearby. A large grill, in need of repair due to splaying concrete, sits at the north end of the picnic area. Also nearby is a multi-featured playground that is frequented by children of all ages. Further to the north, the lower park offers a non-regulation-sized basketball court, and a ball field that has not been maintained. A paved lot adjacent to the picnic are provides parking for up to fifty vehicles. Upriver from the picnic area is a small shed that houses a pump for maintaining the lake level. Despite some efforts to control erosion with boulders and timbers, the river bank along and upriver from the picnic area is subject to substantial erosion.
Park Natural Resources
Tahoe Paradise Park is located west of the city of South Lake Tahoe, in the unincorporated town of Meyers. It is situated on 53.5 acres of that ranges from flat to hilly. The park is on the east side of the base of Echo Summit at an elevation of 6,250 feet. The topography of Tahoe Paradise Park lends itself to most types of outdoor recreation all year long. At its inception, the park was dedicated to the community for recreation use and as a public open space.
Tahoe Paradise Park is encompassed by a large watershed that has high recreational value, and that is subject to regulations to protect water quality, rare and endangered plant and animal species, wildlife habitat, archeological, and natural resources. The watershed is managed to limit fire, erosion hazards, invasive species, and significant impacts to the ecosystem.
The Upper Truckee River borders the northern and western boundaries of the park. The river is in the largest watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin and is the only river tributary to Lake Tahoe. The soil composition in the park is primarily from andesitic volcanic rocks and granodiorite. About 70% of the park land is sandy soil, rock outcrops, and colluvium. The soil is comprised of 65-85% sand, and because of the high percent of sand, erosion issues are concerning, especially along the river. The Upper Truckee River banks exhibit destabilization of the stream corridor, displaying erosion and significant amounts of sedimentation into the river. The park looks forward to seeking and receiving grants to fund projects for bank stabilization and erosion control.
The lower section of the park is in a Stream/Environmental Riparian Zone (SEZ) that mainly consists of lodgepole pine, willow, and grasses. Lake Baron, in the upper park, is surrounded by a mixed conifer forest dominated by Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi), lodgepole pine (Pinus concorta), white fir (Abied concolor ) and Western “Sierra” Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). A particularly magnificent specimen of Sierra Juniper stands on the eastern shore of the lake. Because of the historical trees that exist in the park, a “Landmark Tree Program” has been initiated in coordination with the Meyers Community Plan.
The park has diverse wildlife habitats that consist of native aquatic and terrestrial species. The wildlife that inhabit the park and the Upper Truckee River include beavers, bears, coyotes, and raccoons. Visitors often observe bald eagles and osprey soaring above the lake and perching on snags around the lake. The waterfowl can be spectacular at certain times of the year, and are an attraction to many who visit the park. The park fisheries include river and lake habitat that benefit wildlife as well as the recreationalist who enjoys fishing. The possibility is being discussed of reestablishing the native Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in the river and of limiting fishing to of catch and release. Nonnative trout are not planted in the river. The abundant wildlife is due to the park’s healthy ecosystem. Visitors and residents who come to the park are often amazed by wildlife sightings.
District and Park Goals and Objectives
Goal #1 Increase Community Involvement, Activities, and Programs
a. The board and park employees shall seek to identify and implement activities and programs valued by the community that will involve and draw people to the park.
b The park shall seek to maintain and enhance Lake Baron as a fishing resource, including year-around fishing.
c. The park shall consider developing a dog park.
d. The park shall develop water sports/activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, non-gas remote controlled boats, etc.
e. The park shall develop and enhance its hiking and biking trails, with connection to other trails and neighborhoods, especially North Upper Truckee, with a goal of safe routes to school.
f. The park shall consider developing an ADA accessible trail around the lake and one or more ADA compliant fishing piers.
g. The park and park employees shall seek to identify and implement activities and programs for children and youth, such as day camps.
h. The board and park employees shall seek to identify and implement activities and programs that increase use of the recreation center and patio (e.g., weddings, games, classes, community meetings, crafts, performances, events)
Goal #2 Conserve, Protect, and Enhance the Park’s Natural and Human-Made Features
a. The park shall protect its native plant and animal communities, its soil, and its water and forest resources.
b. The park shall develop an educational plan focused on its natural resources.
c. The park shall develop a community garden.
d. The park shall partner with and cooperate with other agencies in protection of its stream environmental zone and in river restoration.
e. The board shall develop a code of policies and regulations to protect the park and its visitors from damaging, annoying, dangerous, or other inappropriate activities.
f. The board shall be good stewards of our forest, lake and river by thinning trees, reducing forest fuels and working with local, state, and federal forest agencies.
Goal #3 Enhance Park Maintenance and Appearance
a. The board and park employees shall maintain the physical facilities of the park, making prompt repairs and improvements as necessary.
b. The board shall develop a maintenance plan that shall be reviewed quarterly.
c. The board and park employees shall identify and mitigate hazards in the park for the safety of visitors and to prevent liability.
Goal #4 Enhance Park Governance and Management
a. The board shall complete a park master plan with wide community input to guide development and operations for the next five years.
b. On an annual basis the board shall review its master plan and revise as necessary.
c. The board shall establish subcommittees such as Projects, Governance, Master Plan, Events and Programs as necessary to meet the mission, goals, and objectives of the park.
d. Park projects shall be prioritized, implemented, and completed at the direction of the board.
e. Project schedules shall be set for park employees, contractors, and concessionaires.
f. The board shall develop a comprehensive employment policy.
g. The board shall develop a purchasing policy.
h. All park users who pay a fee shall be mailed a satisfaction survey by the board chairman.
i. The board shall investigate the feasibility of election as the preferred method of filling board vacancies.
j. Board meeting dates and agendas shall be widely publicized. Public attendance and participation shall be encouraged. Minutes shall be published on line.
k. Board records shall be inventoried and a records management system implemented.
l. An accurate inventory of all park equipment and facilities shall be developed.
m. A park website shall be developed, kept current, and maintained by the Events Coordinator
n. The board shall review its bylaws and policies and update as necessary.
Goal #5 Enhance Financial Accountability and Transparency
a.The board shall work with county finance officials to make park budget form and content consistent with El Dorado County policies and practices.
b. The park’s budget and expenditures shall be consistent with the park’s master plan’s goals and objectives.
c. Monthly expenditure and revenue reports shall be presented at board meetings.
d. Park operations and expenditures shall comply with federal, state, and local laws.
e. Results of annual audits by the El Dorado County auditor shall be formally received at the board meetings.
Goal #6 Increase Revenue
a. The board shall seek to increase the portion of Measure S/R revenues the park receives.
b. The board shall review and adjust fees for park use as appropriate.
c. The board shall develop relationships with concessionaires who shall pay fees to the park.
d. The board shall continue to seek grants for capital improvements and operations.
e. The board shall periodically assess the feasibility of a property or parcel tax increase.
f. The board shall develop revenue raising events, projects, and activities.
Goal #7 Establish a Project Development and Implementation Plan
a. The park shall restore, maintain, or develop those facilities that support the activities and programs identified in Goal #1.
b. The board shall develop specific criteria to help prioritize projects.
c. The board shall evaluate project feasibility before undertaking each project.
d. The board shall encourage community involvement in project development and implementation.
e. The park shall establish a logo that represents the park.
f. The board shall work toward funding and developing a park recreational/play field.
g. The board shall consider funding and developing a large gazebo with BBQ pit for family and community functions.
h. The board shall consider the development of a sand-based volleyball court.
i. The board shall consider placing rest benches and building a bike path around the lake.
j. The board shall consider converting the #1 tennis court to other uses.
k. The board shall work toward funding and installing permanent restrooms in the lower park.
l. The board shall work toward full ADA compliance for the recreation hall and hall and other park facilities.
m. The board shall maintain the reputation of our park as a safe and family friendly park.
n. The board shall provide a safe environment in the park for children and adults to visit and play.
o. The board shall seek out grants and additional funding that will provide resources to further develop programs for watershed, forest resources, educational outreach, recreational trails, fisheries, community outreach and ADA accessibility.
p. The board shall investigate and consider an enhanced water catchment system
q. The board shall work toward independence from STPUD for irrigation and water system repair, and will seek to increase efficiency in water use.
r. The board shall consider establishing an additional park office.