Dispute with veterans over plan for new sport courts puts Grass Valley in a pickle | TheUnion.com

Dispute with veterans over plan for new sport courts puts Grass Valley in a pickle

Dan Klopfer and Kate Duroux play pickleball at DeVere Mautino Park in Grass Valley, where a tennis court has been re-striped and the Grass Valley Pickleball Club sets up nets and host games on a temporary basis.
Submitted photo |

The plan to install four pickleball courts in Memorial Park was made to serve multiple functions, Grass Valley city officials said Thursday at a meeting of the Nevada County Consolidated Veterans Council.

The courts would addresses numerous requests made by the Grass Valley Pickleball Club — a group with nearly 100 members — for a permanent place to play the tennis-like sport that is quickly growing in popularity. They could also help clean up an area of the park that is rife with problems, including drug use and other criminal activity, officials said.

But many local veterans told city officials Thursday they are strongly opposed to the project, which will require the city to remove two trees from Memorial Park, one of which — an American Elm — contains a plaque dedicated to a veteran. City Manager Tim Kiser said an arborist who examined the Elm told the city the tree is in poor health and will soon need to be removed.

The city has been working on a plan to move the monument and possibly replace the tree, Kiser said, but hadn’t set anything in stone as of Thursday.

According to Kiser, a large swath of trees in Memorial Park will need to be replaced in the long run due to poor health, something the city will be soon planning for. He agreed Thursday to consult with the Veterans Council when making future decisions about trees in the park.

Kiser said city staff had communicated with representatives from local veteran groups prior to the city council approving the $185,000 pickleball court project last month. But he apologized for not getting the message across to everyone.

Veterans said they were concerned the city wasn’t thinking about the long-term use of the park as a memorial to fallen heroes. Some asked whether the city had considered leaving enough room for future monuments. War, after all, doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, they said.

Kiser and Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine said representatives from the city would meet with members of the Veterans Council to address their concerns before moving forward with construction of the pickleball courts, which is slated to begin later this year. They may rethink the plan entirely, they said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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