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Disappearing Acts at the Amphitheater and Truckee Schools Get Extensive Upgrades

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Back in the day, the Truckee Regional Park amphitheater hosted a plethora of big music acts, but that doesn’t happen anymore. What gives?

There are two main reasons for the shift, according to Dan O’Gorman, recreation superintendent of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. The agency operates the “Salty Gebhardt” Amphitheater; a picturesque venue with three grassy tiers for prime dancing and a stage nestled in a grove of graceful aspens.

The chief factor, O’Gorman said, is undoubtedly that outdoor music offerings have grown significantly in the region over the last 10 years, lessening the monopoly the amphitheater once held.

Thirty years ago, TDRPD’s General Manager Steve Randall created the popular Wednesday night free concerts hosted at the amphitheater, and for a long time it was basically the only outside gig around. Then in 2004 came Commons Beach Sunday concerts in Tahoe City, in 2007 the Kings Beach Music on the Beach on Fridays, and in 2009 the Tuesdays outdoor blues concerts at Squaw Valley. Add in Truckee Thursdays (see here), Gray’s Crossings concerts on the lawn on Tuesdays, and music lovers can legitimately see alfresco music practically every night of the week.

The second factor: Robbie Polomsky of Renegade Productions produced about 95 percent of the paid amphitheater shows back in the day, O’Gorman said. When Polomsky left town for personal reasons about 10 years ago, the momentum for paid amphitheater shows died down. O’Gorman explained that other producers have attempted to pick up the baton, but struggle to find success. He recalls one guy who put in an estimated $10,000 to host a concert, only to basically lose his shirt when about 150 people showed up. All of the outdoor events mentioned above are free. Who wants to pay for tickets when you can sate your appetite gratis?

Other potential factors for the disappearing acts, O’Gorman opined, could be that the boundaries at the venue are tough to secure and the Truckee Police now require producers to pay for onsite police patrol due to issues at a couple of concerts years ago.

On the district’s part, it hasn’t raised the fee to rent the amphitheater since 2010 — currently $1,100 — and while it doesn’t discourage big-name music shows, the agency’s vision is to cater to locals, O’Gorman said, and these type of concerts tended to bring people from out of the area. Moreover, only one music venue is allowed at the Regional Park at a time, so if the upper area, a popular spot for family-oriented events like weddings and quinceañeras hosts a band, the amphitheater cannot.

If all of that doesn’t scare you away and you’ve got the itch to bring a big-name band to the area, consider the amphitheater — it’s a prime location.

The district added the second tier to the amphitheater 16 years ago, and the third tier eight years ago, creating one of the largest venues in the area, with room for up to 2,000 people (compare that to the Crystal Bay Club’s capacity of 750). If you’re able to get an act that people will pay $30 per head for, you could bring in $30,000 at just half capacity. But good luck finding a night to do it.

~ Mayumi Elegado/Moonshine Ink

What’s happening west of Truckee High School?

In November of 2014, our community generously passed two bond measures, Measures U and E, to upgrade Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s (TTUSD) school facilities. Ever since, the district’s facilities department has been working diligently on modernizing and expanding Truckee schools.

Upgrades to the athletic fields at Truckee High are already complete, and the community is enjoying the new all-season track installed by Sierra Nevada Construction. There’s a new restroom facility, and adjacent to the track and district office is a new maintenance warehouse.

TTUSD demolished the old district office and warehouse on Donner Pass Road, as well as a loader barn, old bus barn, the wood shop, and the Truckee High offices for Channel 6 (TTCTV). This was all in preparation for the construction, which is kicking off this summer, of a new two-story west wing that will house STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) programs and a new library.

The Truckee High School building will also get a facelift in 2018. Improvements include an enhanced girls locker room, mechanical and electrical upgrades, and new finishes throughout the building, including expansion of student gathering areas, the parking lot, and the band area. Once construction of the $55 million project is complete, most of the modular buildings behind the school will be removed.

Following the Truckee High project will be the modernization at Truckee Elementary right next door. The district selected DLR Group as the architect, and necessary agency approvals are underway for breaking ground in spring 2018. The $28 million elementary school rehab process will transform the mostly modular building into a modernized brick-and-mortar school complete with a hands-on science lab and greenhouse, a new library, cafeteria and kitchen, play fields and a kindergarten play area, and upgraded security and fire alarm systems.

Construction at Truckee High will wrap up in 2019, and the new elementary school will debut in 2020.

~ Kelli Twomey, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District

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May 10, 2018