Sutherland seeks input on proposed park district plan |

Sutherland seeks input on proposed park district plan

By Jamie Bate

Although the question of establishing a park district on the San Juan Ridge is set for the November election, Nevada County Supervisor Robin Sutherland wants more input from ridge voters on the issue.

Sutherland, who represents the ridge in District 4, wants registered voters within the proposed park district boundary to complete an informal online survey to gauge the extent of support or opposition to the district’s formation.

“It’s going to cost a lot of money to hold the election,” Sutherland said. “Before we embark on that, I wanted to ensure that I heard peoples’ opinions.”

While Sutherland’s effort is informal, it may help the Board of Supervisors decide whether to move ahead with the formation process, she said.

Last May, the county hired a consultant to conduct a tracking poll to determine the level of support for the formation of the district among property owners. Within the proposed San Juan Ridge Park District, 700 surveys were mailed to property owners, and the returns indicated less than majority support, according to Sutherland.

The consultant also polled property owners in the proposed Nisenan Park District and in the existing Western Gateway Park District regarding an increase to their current fees. Because a majority of owners supported the Nisenan and Gateway efforts, the board agreed to proceed with the formation process in all three districts.

Only property owners were polled by the consultant because the board agreed that an election for the district formation would follow the Proposition 218 benefit-assessment process, which allows only property owners to vote.

But last November, the board decided that the election process would include a special tax election, which allows all registered voters within the proposed district to vote on the special tax, rather than just property owners.

“We’ll most likely randomly sample a certain percentage of (the surveys) so we can validate the registered voters,” Sutherland said. “I don’t want someone to sit at a computer and send in 30 surveys.”

The election would include three votes:

– Whether to form the San Juan Ridge Park and Recreation District, which would need a majority vote by registered voters;

– Whether to approve a special tax to pay for the district, requiring a two-thirds vote of registered voters;

– To elect a board of directors to serve, only if votes one and two pass.

“I think at this point people need to voice their opinion. If they want (a park district), they should say ‘yes.’ If they don’t they should say ‘no,’ ” Sutherland said. “I want to make sure I gauge it the best I can.”

The proposed San Juan Ridge Park and Recreation District would stretch from North San Juan to near Truckee, while the Nisenan District would begin near McCourtney Road in its southwest corner and end past Interstate 80 to the northwest.

To verify whether you live in the proposed district boundaries and to fill out a survey, go to on the Web.

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