Nevada City supports retention of court offices
January 14, 2013
Representatives of Nevada City signaled their predilection Wednesday night for retaining Nevada County's district attorney and probation offices in the historic mining town's downtown district — just not necessarily in the vacant former Bank of America building that the county has eyed.
"This action has nothing to do with those specific properties, but it has to do with the city's desire to keep court services in Nevada City," said David Brennan, the Nevada City manager, regarding the city's resolution that was approved by a unanimous council at its Wednesday night meeting.
Councilman Robert Bergman recused himself, citing his relationship with involved property owners.
"This resolution doesn't mention any (specific) sites," Brennan said. "It simply says we want to keep it downtown."
The county is set to enter escrow on property located at 201 Commercial St., which Bank of America vacated in March 2012, with the intention of moving the district attorney's office there from its current site in converted office space above retail space, also in downtown Nevada City, a few blocks from the Nevada County Courthouse. The county's five-year lease on the space is set to expire this summer.
The county is also poised to purchase the office space above Friar Tuck's that currently houses the county's probation department. The county currently leases the space.
However, the county has an alternative site located in Grass Valley's Whispering Pines Business Park.
"We know there is a Plan B, and I think it would be terrible," Brennan said.
The predicament is an added element in the city's wrangling to retain the Nevada County Courthouse in downtown Nevada City, the county seat, arguing that its removal would catastrophically degrade historic district's economic viability, sustained in no small part by court-related activities. Those arguments have taken place amid stalled pushes to update or replace the courthouse.
While the city wants to keep court services downtown, housing the district attorney in one of the city's prime commercial buildings is not ideal, officials have told The Union.
"I think it would be really nice if there were some kind of retail store to go into the Bank of America site, but there isn't," said Councilwoman Jennifer Ray.
"Having two large vacant buildings in the middle of town is not a good message," Ray added, referencing the currently unoccupied Alpha Building on Broad Street, located on the same lot.
Both buildings are owned by Gary Tintle and Ken Baker, who also own the area above Friar Tuck's the county is eyeing. Tintle, with co-owner Robinson Enterprises, also owns the district attorney's current location, Tintle told The Union.
While the city's support Wednesday of retaining those offices downtown has no official bearing on the Nevada City Planning Commission's Jan. 17 consideration of a conditional use permit to occupy the site as anything other than retail or banking, County Executive Officer Rick Haffey told The Union Tuesday that the county would not move on the real estate deal without the support of the city.
An application for subdividing the upstairs portion of the probation department's current location will also be forthcoming, Brennan noted.
Final approval of the purchase will require Nevada County Board of Supervisors approval as well.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.