County would benefit from parks, open-space land |

County would benefit from parks, open-space land

The Union recently editorialized that creation of parkland at the Loma Rica site was not in the community’s interest because it conflicted with the need for affordable local housing. Sadly, this either-or position fails to allow for the kind of visionary planning that is essential for the future growth of a desirable community.

There is a lack of park and open-space land in western Nevada County. There may appear to be a lot of open space around, but it is mostly privately owned and inaccessible to the public. With the exception of Empire Mine State Park, one must go to the Tahoe National Forest or the American or South Yuba rivers to reach open space for hiking, trail running, picnicking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Ironically, there are more easily accessible trails and public open spaces in many metropolitan counties than there are in the Grass Valley area.

The Union’s position seems to echo the views of some contributors to these pages that the development of parks and open space somehow is not related to the real needs of actual people. Yet the reason we need parks and open spaces is to meet the needs of a growing population for recreation, quiet, physical exercise, and enjoyment of natural beauty and wildlife. These needs are just as important as more housing, industry, and shopping opportunities.

Valuations rise for private properties near well-maintained parks. Studies from the National Recreation and Park Association and other groups have borne this out. The fiscal gains to local government from the creation of parks outweigh the losses from the tax rolls.

Some forward-thinking counties in our state have attempted to remedy these problems by creating park districts, open-space districts, or simply a county park system. Those counties which embarked on this process years ago have reaped enormous benefits in terms of the quality of life of their residents. Opportunities for park acquisition, as in the case of the Loma Rica site, usually do not arrive often. When they do, seizing the opportunity invariably pays big dividends for future generations.

Harry B. Wyeth

Grass Valley

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