Beating the bells to a better Nevada City |

Beating the bells to a better Nevada City

Nevada City business owners and city officials had a jam session on Wednesday morning at City Hall in a symbolic demonstration of how the town can work creatively together.

In pure Nevada City style, the meeting began with people picking up percussion instruments and beating an improvised rhythm on drums, bells and wooden xylophones before getting down to business.

The downtown meeting is a quarterly one designed to create dialogue among the City of Nevada City, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District. The BID has been troubled by divisions. The meeting’s intent was not to smooth over those differences but to discuss many issues and look at ways to improve the town.

Vice Mayor Sally Harris moderated the meeting, sponsored by the Nevada City Economic Enhancement Team.

Working to market Nevada City on a more regional level with its sister city and former rival Grass Valley was a central theme at the meeting.

Nevada City can learn a lot from Grass Valley, said Jim McConnaughay, new chairman of the BID. He said Nevada City needs to follow Grass Valley’s lead by lowering annual dues, and the organization could offset the loss in funds through fundraisers, events and grants.

“We have a successful model four miles away,” McConnaughay said.

“We want to participate and work with you,” said Howard Levine, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association. “It’s not about Grass Valley; it’s not about Nevada City. It’s about all of us together.”

McConnaughay said BID dues have been unfair; a revised dues assessment will go before the BID board on April 3 and be open to community comment by April 10. The revision won’t go into effect until 2008 after a review by the City Council next fall.

Some business owners voiced frustration about issues such as loitering, late-night drunkenness, neglect of the town’s appearance and a brewing competitiveness among merchants.

Another point discussed was how to keep the historical integrity of the old mining town alive while looking ahead 50 years.

“I recommend that we be bold, very bold. What do we want our community to look like for our children, and how do we set about to do it?” asked Reinette Senum of PowerUp-NC, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency.

Officials said a new community service officer will hit the streets next month to reduce loitering and parking issues. Also, the Chamber of Commerce changed its by-laws to limit presidential terms.


To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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