Nevada City city council delays decision on vets building lease
October 2, 2012
Objection to the proposed leasing of a large chunk of the Nevada City Veterans Building to a nonprofit business supporter was professed, in large part by swordsmen, at the town’s Wednesday night city council meeting.
After two years at the old Stonehouse Brewery, Sierra Commons, a nonprofit organization that helps foster businesses, has outgrown its current facilities, said Executive Director Robert Trent.
“We’re busting out of the seams. We’re gonna move soon,” Trent said. “What we’d like to do is stay in Nevada City and stay downtown.”
Sierra Commons is looking to occupy and possibly take over management responsibilities of the veterans building from Nevada City.
However, Nevada City itself manages the building for Nevada County, which owns the downtown structure.
Nevada City Manager David Brennan said the city doesn’t make any money on operating the facility.
“The idea behind this was (that) we don’t have a community center, and we have this place to provide recreation, social and cultural uses of the space,” said Councilwoman Sally Harris.
“I think it has been a success,” she said based on the number of impassioned supporters who turned out pleading with the council to preserve the veterans building for the use of its large open upstairs quarters and its kitchen.
“The issue before the City Council is the competing usage (of the building),” Brennan said. “Can those uses be compatibly accommodated.”
The Wild and Scenic Film Festival makes use of the building during its annual gathering, as do summer camps and KVMR radio station.
More than a dozen organizations use the facility for fencing, Tai chi, art classes, college classes and electoral polling, and some businesses use the building’s kitchen.
“I think we can agree that what is in the interest of the city is having thriving businesses oriented toward meeting the needs of the community,” said Sierra Commons board president Max Norton.
Members of the Western Martial Arts Sword Fighters of the Diamond Rose, a fencing group, occupied a quarter of the public seating at Tuesday’s meeting. Many of them spoke out against giving up their space for Sierra Commons.
“I don’t see that we are really part of Sierra Commons’ vision,” said instructor Chris Atkinson. “I ask that you defend my students so that they still have the hall for meeting.”
Sierra Commons, which already provides space to community groups at the Stonehouse, pledged to continue this function in the capacity possible if the organization took over the veterans building, said Trent.
“People are using our facility for community access since day one,” Trent said. “We’re not just an office that a bunch of people work at. We’re creating jobs to make Nevada County a better place to live.”
In the end, the council determined that it was premature to determine who should take over primary use of the building, calling on both sides of the issue to meet and see if they can come to an amiable solution on their own.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.