By CHRISTIN HANNA
Those of us fortunate enough to call Tahoe City home need not be told what a great place this is to live. No matter what kind of day you’re having or what may be troubling you, you can take a moment to gaze out at the expanse of Lake Tahoe, and just breathe.
Our lake is possibly most well-known for its clarity; taking moments to enjoy the lake offer the clarity of perspective. My problems or worries are always small in comparison to that vast, dynamic body of water.
Commons Beach provides our regular access to this view. Sunday Concerts and the Farmer’s Market add to the vibrancy of this special place, our primary gathering spot. It’s been that way for Tahoe City our entire history:
• Mid-1800s: Tahoe City’s waterfront included buildings that housed the Post Office and the Cedar Log Saloon, which regularly served as the meeting house for the Women’s Club.
• 1872: The 4.3-acre parcel is deeded to the citizens of Tahoe City by President Ulysses S. Grant (my cousin!) under the provisions of an act of Congress.
• 1937: Fire destroys the buildings on the Tahoe City waterfront. The Tahoe Women’s Club obtained permission from the presiding judge of the Superior Court of Placer County, acting as trustee for the citizens of Tahoe City, to build a multi-purpose community center on Commons Beach for the public good. The Women’s Club and other organizations sponsored potluck dinners and other fundraisers to help pay for the construction of the building, and more than 200 people came from all around the lake to join in celebrating the completion of construction on June 26.
• 1938: The Post Office occupied one side of the first floor of the building, a small meeting hall the other. The second floor was a large hall with a kitchen area which was used as a meeting venue by the Women’s Club and the town, and rented out for other community activities.
What’s changed 82 years later? Our community has outgrown the small building previously used as our community center, and although Commons Beach is a wonderful development for the public, the footprint of the old firehouse and community center seems “up-for-grabs” rather than the precedent of its public use for-the-people status being protected. A commercial, for-profit proposal is being considered.
The people always speak up, and we need a community center that serves all to elevate our society and celebrate the culture of this beautiful place.
I am part of a grassroots organization known as Siren Arts. We are fighting to keep this precious piece of land for community use to benefit the people of Tahoe City, not a for-profit development. Our mission is really no different from the Women’s Club all those years ago; we want to create a facility that can serve our community’s needs. Our modern community deserves a state-of-the-art, multi-use community center. We have a concept that could activate space right away in its current form, along with a long-term vision for something brand new.
While Commons Beach is easily the town center in summer months, our facility would provide a gathering space for residents and visitors to be inspired every day of the year, on the current footprint of the firehouse properties.
Tahoe City’s ONLY public land should not be given to entrepreneurs or developers to compete with our local businesses. It should be for celebrations. For local artist exhibitions. For pumpkin patches. For concerts. For food. For lectures. For birthdays. For film. For community groups.
Join us in the fight to keep this parcel in the hands of the community. Add your name to our supporters at sirenarts.org to be notified of how you can help and be updated along the way.
~ Christin Hanna grew up on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. After a professional dance career throughout the U.S., she returned home in 2008 and is now the founder of Lake Tahoe Dance Collective.