Other Voices: City Council meeting amusing but sad | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: City Council meeting amusing but sad

There was high drama in the Grass Valley City Council’s quarters when the council members, with brows furrowed, were discussing whether to preserve a section of Wolf Creek for the benefit of the town’s citizens and future generations, or give in to the insistence of a seller of mobile homes that his future business would be irreparably harmed unless he was allowed to pave four parking spaces 20 feet from the creek.

The decision before the council was whether or not to insist on a setback from the creek, in exchange for the privilege of developing land owned by the applicant. What was left unsaid was that without a setback along the creek, the possibility that there would ever be a continuous strip park and trail along Wolf Creek was seriously diminished.

Several of the council members spoke long soliloquies about how they regretted that the city did not have an ordinance that allowed them to do what they knew was “the right thing” and protect the creek. Several were effusive in their sympathy for the applicant because he had undergone the stress of a drawn-out public approval process.

The applicant himself took to the microphone and bemoaned the fact that he had been so mistreated by the system, as I suppose, had his slick-haired attorney and the coiffed engineer, both of whom spoke on his behalf.

Several of the council members virtually pleaded with the applicant to allow the city a reasonable setback to protect the creek. No response from the applicant nor his team of apologists. Other council persons essentially told the applicant that they would let him get away with defacing the creek this time, but things would be different when he applied to expand his business. Courage postponed is courage denied.

Unfortunately, a drama was all it was. The final vote, which never seemed to be in doubt, was unanimous in favor of giving away the public’s right to ever expect to have a lovely continuous creekside park meandering through their town.

One council person said that they were only talking about forty feet of creek. I guess the idea that a trail should be continuous was lost on him. No council person pointed out that the poor applicant could have relieved himself of the agony of this extended dilemma by simply repositioning the four parking spaces further from the creek.

The event was notable for what was missing. What was missing included any evidence of a long-term vision for our community from the council members. What was missing was the ability of any of the council members to exhibit the backbone necessary to stand up for the citizens of Grass Valley and go against the arguments of their staff and fellow council members.

What was missing was the courage demonstrated by the city fathers in Monterey, San Luis Obisbo, Los Gatos and Ashland, Oregon when they created what became the defining elements of their towns, which is their walking trails and strip parks along their waterways.

Grass Valley seems to be getting comfortable with the image of being the industrial park of the region, so presumably the people’s work was done last night amidst all the drama. It was an entertaining show, but had a sad ending.


Mike Thompson lives in Grass Valley

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