Penn Valley community center draws 60 for town hall |

Penn Valley community center draws 60 for town hall

Penn Valley’s planned community center gained traction Tuesday night with a turnout of almost 60 people at a town hall meeting at the local fire station.

“We’re building something that’s going to help the whole county,” said project manager Bruce Ivy. “We’re only nine minutes from Grass Valley and next to Lake Wildwood.”

On Tuesday, Ivy fielded questions from the audience, along with a panel of county and local supporters, including Ellen Persa, campaign coordinator and board member of Penn Valley Community Foundation, project sponsors.

The L-shaped, $5 million, 21,500-square-foot project is expected to include a 5,000-square-foot Nevada County library branch, 219 parking spaces, a full commercial kitchen and an acoustically optimized performance hall.

The 5-acre site, which the foundation owns, is on Spenceville Road across the street from the Penn Valley Fire Protection District station where Tuesday night’s town hall was held.

“Get your checkbooks out,” quipped Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston, whose district includes Penn Valley. “This will be a great project for the community.”

Asked what types of uses they preferred, residents at Tuesday’s town hall said they wanted to see a youth center, a senior center, emergency shelter facilities and outdoor events.

“This is an enormous economic development opportunity,” said Mike Mastrodonato, president of the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce. “It should also bring us some night life to Penn Valley.”

Since the project was officially announced in August, Persa, Ivy and foundation board members have had dozens of meetings across Nevada County with potential long-term tenants, such as performance groups, wedding planners and business organizations. In addition, they are seeking volunteers, contributors and people to buy naming rights for rooms, walls, chairs and special sections.

Persa said she will be posting a draft business plan for the entire project within the next couple weeks at the foundation website, The business plan will outline opportunities for contributions and naming rights, as well as openings for volunteers. With $150,000 raised so far, the project has a ways to go, she said.

“We’ll be sending out notices to everyone on our email list when the business plan is posted,” Persa said. “Also, we’ll be sending our regular email blasts to let people know what’s going on.”

Ivy said he was aiming to break ground within the next year, depending on whether the foundation is able to attract long-term tenants, win grants and inspire major donors. In addition to the likely long-term library lease with the county, the local Lions Club has donated money toward the commercial kitchen where the group hopes to hold its future meetings, said Penn Valley Community Foundation President Louie Osterude.

“We’re the first off the plate,” he said, referring to other recently announced community center ideas such as by NEO and the YMCA. “We want to make it a home run.”

For more information, contact Persa at 530-615-1143, or To contact the Penn Valley Community Center office, call 530-432-3527 or P.O. Box 186, Penn Valley, CA 905946.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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