Trash mounds stack up at homeless camp in Grass Valley’s Glenbrook Basin | TheUnion.com

Trash mounds stack up at homeless camp in Grass Valley’s Glenbrook Basin

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Deep behind 10859 Brunswick Road in Grass Valley, there’s trash — and a lot of it.

Strewn about the branches, grass and dirt are clothing, mattresses and plastic Tupperware often merging into large mounds. The grounds are covered with items belonging to homeless individuals who once established shelter, and possibly still do, in the wooded area.

Dick Law, a broker for Paul Law Realty, said a contractor told him a day’s work wouldn’t make a dent in the area.

Law wants to clean it up. He’s also been trying to get non-housed individuals into homes.

About 30 homeless people have been in that area over the last few years, said Law. The broker doesn’t know if the grounds have been abandoned. For the past two months, Richard and Minta Cramer, who own the property where the trash has amassed, have complained about the mess to Law, he said. The pair could not be reached for comment.

Grass Valley resident Melissa Hatcher doesn’t know when the cleanup will occur — or if it will — but she’s trying to make it happen. The retiree said she found out about the trash piles on Facebook, and has collected bottled water, garbage bags and latex gloves to prepare for a cleanup.

“I wanted to motivate people,” she said, adding that she wants to clean up the area before rain arrives and washes toxins into the county’s water system.

Hatcher is the type of resident Grass Valley City Councilwoman Hilary Hodge refers to when she says there are a lot of do-gooders in the city.

“The community volunteer effort is amazing,” she said, adding the city will provide a dumpster and possibly a police officer to ensure public safety if a cleanup ensues. Hodge said she is nervous about health hazards, including drug paraphernalia and sharp objects, that could endanger volunteers.

HOMELESSNESS ISSUES

As a broker, Law has tried to get people Section 8 vouchers, and ensure them housing afterward. Years ago, he said he pushed the county to have a navigation center in order to help individuals with vouchers obtain stable shelter.

“There are so many more people in the street than there were three years ago,” he said. “It’s a humanitarian crisis.”

Then, the county didn’t want the navigation center in the Glenbrook Basin, he said, where homeless individuals linger and where Law thought it would be most useful. The project didn’t come to fruition.

Hodge said the county should reconsider its initial decision.

“I think that the county needs to look at possibly revisiting that or see if there’s another way to find the money to fund that project,” she said.

Hodge said the approval of the homeless day center on the same road was a step forward for the county. Another positive initiative, she said, was The Friendship Club’s efforts to reduce teen homelessness.

“If you ensure that at-risk teens have housing,” she said, “it greatly reduces the future of homeless populations.”

An estimated 172 Nevada County high school students were declared homeless in 2018.

Law believes there’s much more to be done for homeless individuals.

“I think the county is really going about it wrong,” he said. “They spend so much money on salaries, on programs, and very little money gets down to the person that needs housing or a meal.”

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with its Brunswick Commons project — a homeless resource center and transitional housing units — on Old Tunnel Road in Grass Valley. The project is some two years away from completion.

POSSIBLE PARK

The Cramers, who own the property where trash has accumulated, gave permission to Grass Valley to refurbish that space as a park, according to city Community Services Analyst Zac Quentmeyer.

On Aug. 5 Grass Valley applied for a Prop 68 state grant worth $8.5 million to build a park that includes four land parcels and 31 acres, said Quentmeyer. The city will likely hear back in January.

The park would include hiking trails, a playground, barbecue pavilion and tennis or basketball courts, said Quentmeyer.

“We’re hopeful,” he said of the grant. “It’s going to be highly competitive.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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