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Nevada County’s Oak Tree Park open at last

Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

Oak Tree Park is finally celebrating its formal grand opening today, more than two years after voters on the San Juan Ridge approved a special tax and elected a board of directors.

The park formerly was the lower campus of Oak Tree School, which was closed in 2000 due to declining enrollment.

In 2008, the school board declared the lower campus parcel to be surplus property, and in 2009, Nevada County used a $500,000 grant to buy the 11.5-acre field and pond property.

In November 2010, voters in North San Juan and the San Juan Ridge approved a special tax, approved the boundaries of the park district and elected a board of directors. In 2011, the board established regular meetings and then got busy coordinating volunteer projects and securing additional funding. Since then, the bathrooms have been restored, a storage shed was converted to an equipment shed and the playing field has been restored.

A nationally known sculptor currently is trying to raise the funds necessary to create a giant salamander play structure for the park.

North San Juan sculptor Solomon Bassoff is a partner in Faducci Studio with Domenica Mottarella and has created public art pieces in Davis, Sacramento and Seattle. Bassoff and Mottarella create their works by forming cement around a steel and wire armature. They permanently color the cement with natural mineral pigments, adding other materials that enhance the cement’s strength and frost resistance. Many of their pieces include glass mosaic.

Most recently, they created several pieces for a library in Oklahoma City, Bassoff said.

“We’ve been doing public art for many other communities, but we haven’t done anything locally,” he said.

“We thought how wonderful it would be to have something local, to have kids playing on it, that would be more of a draw for kids to go to the park.”

The proposed salamander play structure would be 10 feet long and 40 inches high, Bassoff said. If people are interested, they can go to Bassoff’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/solomon.bassoff?fref=ts.

The community is invited to a picnic at the park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by the park board and Friends of Oak Tree Park, said organizer Roo Cantada.

“Now you can finally walk on the field,” she said. “There will be games and booths and three bands, as well as a great raffle … It’s a bring-your-own picnic, but we will have watermelon, corn and possibly root beer floats.”

The Ruckrich Family Band is scheduled to play at 11:30 a.m. and county Supervisor Hank Weston will make a speech at 12:15 p.m. The Oak Tree Dancers will put on a performance at 12:30 p.m., followed by the Peace Farmers. The raffle will be at 1:15 p.m., and Cousin Cricket is set to take the stage at 1:30 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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