Nevada City Council considers sustainable projects that make money |

Nevada City Council considers sustainable projects that make money

From solar farms to preserving open space and even a possible bike-share program, Nevada City wants to be proactive when it comes to sustainability.

During a recent planning retreat, the Nevada City Council made fiscal sustainability one of its three-year goals. On Wednesday it heard a presentation on potential sustainable projects that would create an annual stream of revenue.

City Manager Catrina Olson, Consulting City Engineer Bill Falconi and newly appointed Mayor Reinette Senum discussed a manual of solutions, presented by consultant Gerry Dameron of Go Green Institute, that had been designed and implemented in other cities and counties to save and generate revenue by “going green.”

Staff reviewed all of the plans in the manual and created a list of projects they felt were viable, Olson said.

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“We need direction from the council before we ride off into the sunset,” Falconi said.

Projects that would be brand-new to Nevada City include a pedestrian-friendly bike share program, purchasing or renting a biochar unit to make chippings into reusable biodegradable product, using Sugarloaf Mountain for outdoor events, and expanding parking at Pine and Spring streets. Continuing or expanding projects already in process include a grid-positive solar farm at the Nevada City Old Airport, an open space parks preserve, brownfield redevelopment of contaminated land sites, garden projects and the farmers’ market.

Some of the projects highlighted in the manual would be a better fit for Nevada City than others, Falconi noted.

“We can continue to build on what we are doing,” he said. “We already do a lot of this.”

The bike-share program was a no-go for council member Duane Strawser, an avid bicyclist who owns Tour of Nevada City.

“As a local bike guy, I have studied this heavily,” he said. “We are not ready for this…. We’re not flat, we don’t have the infrastructure. It’s not a viable project.”

Falconi told the council members the Sugarloaf Mountain proposal had some logistical issues that would need addressing, including the lack of water or sewer facilities. But Senum and Strawser both expressed interest in limited usage such as small wedding parties.

“This is the kind of discussion that stimulates substantive change,” said Dameron, the consultant who presented the “book” of proposals.

“Cities and counties want to do things to improve quality of life, to improve sustainability and improve economic development,” Dameron continued, adding that his company looked at more than 200 projects before picking the top 30 to share. All of those slash carbon, protect or restore ecosystems and make money.

According to Dameron, his consulting company offers a two-day training designed to help city staff and officials organize their top priorities and develop an implementation process.

The council members opted to take more time to examine the manual and examine their options.

“I want to make sure we move forward intelligently,” Senum said. “I want someone to crunch the numbers so we can narrow this down a bit more.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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