Grass Valley stops short of supporting Nevada City’s conservancy bid
As Nevada City competes with mountain and foothill communities throughout eastern California to house the 70-job Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the city of Grass Valley threw its support this week behind Nevada County.
Not Nevada City. Nevada County.
A divided Grass Valley City Council opted not to specifically favor Nevada City, in part because another county community, Truckee, is competing for the headquarters. The newly formed state organization’s headquarters is seen as an economic boon, sure to draw visitors to area restaurants, hotels and stores.
“I just don’t think the cities need to be pitted against one another,” Grass Valley City Councilwoman Patti Ingram said.
Keen to avoid slighting Truckee, Ingram declined to specifically support the bid of her birthplace, Nevada City, and questioned the smaller town’s ability to “deal with the influx of people.”
Nevada City is not only able to host the conservancy’s headquarters, it is the perfect spot, blessed with easy access, great beauty, and a robust economy, according to a glossy brochure the city sent out weeks ago to conservancy organizers.
Nevada City Mayor Conley Weaver spent Wednesday in Sacramento, shaking hands and touting Nevada City’s charms in an effort to convince the conservancy to hold its first meeting, tentatively scheduled for early June, in Nevada City.
Weaver said he was disappointed in his neighboring city council’s vote Tuesday night.
“I would hope they would’ve voted to put it in (Nevada City), since the city’s been so active and at the leading edge of the whole (conservancy) concept,” Weaver said.
The Sierra Conservancy is a newly created, board-governed body that will secure tax dollars and grants to protect natural resources in the Sierra and promote local businesses.
The local support vote didn’t go the way Grass Valley Vice Mayor Mark Johnson wanted, either.
To benefit Grass Valley, Johnson said, it “would be great to have (the conservancy) as close as possible … the benefits will flow over Banner Mountain.”
He pointed out that the selection process is highly competitive, and he was “just trying to be neighborly.”
But Truckee is a neighbor, too, said Ingram, who believes Grass Valley could also benefit if the headquarters goes to the Donner Pass town.
Truckee’s bid for the conservancy has so far been rather low key and primarily communicated through personal contacts, Town Manager Steve Wright said.
He said the town has assembled a special committee to tout its strong transportation links, scenic montane setting, historic downtown and vibrancy, all qualities Wright believes will help the town’s cause.
Truckee is on the short list of strong contenders, said Shawn Garvey, CEO with the Sierra Fund, a Nevada City nonprofit instrumental in the conservancy’s creation.
Other front-runners include Nevada City, Placerville, Colfax and Auburn, Garvey said.
Garvey is keeping mum on the Sierra Fund’s official pick, but he pointed out he has chosen to live in Nevada City. Also staying quiet are State Sen. Sam Aanestad, who said he represents three counties that are seeking the headquarters, and Assemblyman Rick Keene, who didn’t respond to calls regarding this article.
The conservancy’s 13-member board is expected to vote on its home when it begins meeting, perhaps as soon as June, Garvey said.
Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council, which helped form the conservancy, said the headquarters decision could be affected by the community’s accessibility, high-speed communications, quality of life, and presence of affordable housing.
For more information on the Sierra Conservancy, visit http://www.sierraconservancy.org, a Web site hosted by the Sierra Fund.
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