Ideas fly regarding Nevada City’s old airport property |

Ideas fly regarding Nevada City’s old airport property

City planners are currently considering what to do with the old Nevada City airport property by using it for public utility services or as a garden park. Using the property for affordable housing was floated but disregarded.
Elias Funez/ |

Nevada City will continue exploring possible uses of its old airport property, a 109-acre site less than two miles from downtown that hasn’t been used to land a plane since the 1950’s.

The city council held a public workshop to discuss possible uses of the property May 24, and the results of that workshop were brought back to the council at its June 28 meeting. Those who attended wrote their ideas on large posters at City Hall, and then voted on the ideas they liked best.

“I think there will be a time in each and every one of your lives that you’ll remember the time we started this process, because it’s going to become a gem for Nevada City if we do it right,” said Council Member David Parker.

City Planner Amy Wolfson grouped the ideas generated from the public workshop into categories, and ranked them based on which ideas gathered the most votes.

The highest-ranked category was “public utility services,” according to Wolfson. That could include a solar farm, which was the highest voted specific use of the land, or a biomass power plant, she said.

A “garden park” theme ranked next, which could take form as a nature reserve or arboretum. A “Golden Gate Park-like development” was the highest ranked specific use that fell into the garden park category.

Active recreation uses, such as athletic fields, ranked third. And educational facilities, such as nature and cultural museums, ranked fourth.

Building affordable housing units was also discussed, but the idea didn’t rank high enough, based on votes from the public workshop, for consideration.

City council confirmed prioritization of those top four use categories and directed staff to prepare a report outlining potential uses. That report, according to Wolfson, will include impacts on issues such as staff time for management of the property, fiscal management, environmental resources, scenic resources and permitting requirements.

The council plans to hold another public workshop in the future, but said the process will likely take significant time.

“Nothing is happening quickly,” said Mayor Evans Phelps.

But regardless of the timeline, city staff and council members are still eager for public input.

“Even if it’s 10 years off, please remember your input now is more important than ever,” said Vice Mayor Duane Strawser.

Nevada City resident Richard Thomas said that if there was a simple answer how to use the property, it would’ve been implemented years ago.

“I’m glad you opened up the can of worms,” he said to the council. “But it is a can of worms.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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