County advances plan for new park districts |

County advances plan for new park districts

Amidst growing budget concerns, Nevada County supervisors took a tentative, monetary step Tuesday toward forming two new park districts.

The 5-0 vote allocated $17,500 for a consultant to survey residents’ willingness to form districts in the Grass Valley/Nevada City and San Juan Ridge areas.

But that decision wasn’t reached without discord.

Discussions started with Supervisor Drew Bedwell’s motion to dissolve the Grass Valley/Nevada City group – the Nisenan Regional Park and Recreation District Formation Exploratory Committee.

He also wanted to form an ad hoc group to take another look at the group’s plans.

Beyond questioning the timing because of a tightening budget, Bedwell is concerned the group slighted “active” sports, such as softball and tennis, during its work – that is versus what is classified as “passive” sports, such as hiking.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant countered that the committee has worked since forming in 1995 and “looked at every amenity known to mankind.” He also said any delay could push forming new parks to 2006.

The Nisenan committee has all but completed its work, and Bedwell and Van Zant wrangled over whether the committee should remain in place at least until the survey work is done.

Bedwell motioned to disband the Nisenan committee and form an ad hoc committee that would add new people. Supervisor Robin Sutherland seconded the motion, saying, “I will support whatever Mr. Bedwell wants.”

But when questioned by Board Chairwoman Sue Horne about the timeliness of forming a new committee, Bedwell withdrew his motion. A subsequent motion by Van Zant – to add new members to the existing committee and disband the group after the survey results are back in several weeks – passed unanimously.

The total cost of establishing the two new park districts is about $150,000, said Horne, who echoed Bedwell and Sutherland’s budgetary concerns. Those funds, if the districts are formed, would eventually be reimbursed to the county.

While the $17,500 spending approved Tuesday moves the Nisenan and San Juan Ridge projects along, Horne pounded on the county’s lack of funds. She also blasted the previous board’s vote last year to give $100,000 to the Nevada County Land Trust.

“With that vote, you jeopardized this action today,” Horne said to Van Zant.

She also suggested someone contact the land trust to get the money back and help fuel the district-forming process.

The process to form a park district involves a pair of public votes – one to form a board of directors and another on whether property owners would approve an annual assessment to maintain the parks.

The county already has three such park districts – Bear River, Western Gateway and Truckee-Donner.

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