V&T will speed through Gold Hill, not stop
Appeal Staff Writer
A $720,000 land-lease deal that would’ve enabled the Virginia & Truckee Railway to stop in Gold Hill failed Monday, with votes tied between the board reconstructing the historic railroad.
The Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the Virginia & Truckee Railway split on the best use of taxpayers’ money: spending it to avert any future problems of getting the tourist train up to Virginia City, or saving money on a long-term lease that may not be needed.
“I don’t believe we need it for the operation of the railroad,” said Commissioner Ron Allen, who voted against the lease. “My intent is, I don’t want to set a precedence of leasing land.”
Commissioners John Tyson, Larry McPherson and John Flanagan also voted against the lease.
The issue drew a room full of spectators, contentious debate between the factions, and ultimately failed because of meeting rules that determine a tied vote falls flat.
The commission first proposed the 20-year land lease adjacent to the Gold Hill Depot in case an operating agreement is not worked out with the Gray family, which owns the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. The tourist rail business runs trains between its station in Virginia City and the Gold Hill Depot, off State Route 342. The Gold Hill land is owned by Virginia City businessman Joe Curtis.
The commission is rebuilding about 16 miles of track between the depot and Carson City with public and private funds.
Commissioners in favor of the lease said the land could be used for parking or as a tourist-staging area. Passengers could then be bused down the mountain or up to Virginia City, if needed. The board is also concerned with the cost of fixing up the V&T Railroad for heavy use.
Carson City Mayor Marv Teixeira, who sits on the V&T board and voted to approve the land lease, said it would’ve been in the taxpayers’ best interest to sign the lease on a project for which costs keep climbing. Commissioners Bonnie Weber, Bob Hadfield and Janice Ayres voted with Teixeira. Commissioner Doug Johnson was absent.
“We want to go to Virginia City, but just in case, this is a $48 million project,” Teixeira said. “If we don’t have a fall back, we’re doing a disservice to the taxpayers.”
The lease would have also secured a needed access road and use of the V&T Railway corporation name, which Curtis believes he owns exclusively.
Tom Gray, co-owner of the V&T Railroad, wants to see the steam locomotive complete the trek to Virginia City.
“We wouldn’t support busing in people from Gold Hill,” he said.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.