Incline Village: Tale of two towns

INCLINEVILLAGE- Urbanites looking for a change of pace know to head for Incline Village. Less than an hour's drive from the big city, visitors can walk down the small town's twisty roads - such as Village Drive and Ponderosa Lane - on their way to the golf course while admiring picturesque views of the lake.

Yes, indeed: there's no better place to go to get away from metropolitan St. Louis than Incline Village, Mo.

Evan Stahl, who manages the Golf Club of Incline Village in the state of Missouri's Incline Village, said he regularly gets calls from clients who confuse his Incline Village for Nevada's.

"The first time I fielded a telephone call, the customers were telling me about how beautiful it was up here," he said. "About two or three minutes into the conversation they asked for directions and I said to take Highway 70 to the Foristell, Mo. exit. There was a pause and they said they were looking for the one in Nevada and then we all started laughing."

Few of Nevada's Incline residents, however, seem to be aware of their Midwestern counterpart.

"I've never heard of Incline Village, Missouri before," said Incline Village General Improvement District Vice Chairman Gene Brockman. "As a former Missourian, all I can say is you'll have to 'show me'."

The two villages share a striking number of similarities. Both have large proportions of retirees; both were founded in the mid-1960s; both have golf courses, semi-public community-owned swimming pools, tennis courts and boat launches; and both are run by five-person boards of trustees.

"Incline is a very unique village and it's been kind of the best-kept secret in Missouri just until the last couple of years ago," said Realtor Terri Lutchka whose coverage area includes Incline Village, Mo.

But despite the curious parallels, visitors to the two Inclines could hardly mistake one for the other. Nevada's Incline Village has more than six times its counterpart's tiny population of 1,500. Lake Tahoe is more than 500 times larger than Missouri's Incline Village Lake and the Midwestern village's "inclines" are far gentler than those found in the Sierra Nevada; its elevation fluctuates between 450 and 700 ft. above sea level.

Life in the Missouri's Incline

The Missouri Incline's government covers a similar range of activities as Nevada's Incline, though its annual budget doesn't exceed $350,000 and its only salaried employee is a part-time secretary. IVGID has more than 100 full-time employees.

Of late, the biggest issue in the Midwest town was the housing moratorium that went into effect last year, after the town government realized its sewer system had reached capacity. The ban was lifted in February, which revitalized the housing market.

"We've got brand new homes going up for the first time in a while and I've begun advertising Incline homes on television and on the Internet again," Lutchka said.

Real-estate prices are significantly less in the Midwestern town than in Nevada's. According to Lutchka, houses in the Missouri Incline typically sell for about $250,000 and lake shore residences can run into the $500,000 range. In contrast, the median house price in Nevada's Incline is currently $1.14 million and waterfront homes on Lakeshore Boulevard have sold for a median of $5.65 million in the past year.

Missouri Incline Trustee Wayne Broecker said other issues his board has tackled in recent years have been purchasing the private water utility - similar to what happened in Nevada's Crystal Bay 10 years ago - paving all the roads and enacting a jet ski ban that is set to take effect later today.

Broecker had heard there was another Incline Village somewhere else in the country and said he might have an opportunity to see the other Incline in the near future.

"I'm trying to convince my wife to make a trip out west," he said. "If we have a chance, we'd love a chance to come through your town."


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