Other Voices: Time is ripe for preserving a piece of local history
Under the process of public condemnation, and the right of eminent domain, I request that the city of Grass Valley condemn the property at the corner of Bennett and Kidder Avenue, the former site of the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Main terminal and Kidder Mansion.
The monumental historical importance relating to this property demands such action be taken to preserve in perpetuity for all citizens and future generations of Nevada County residences. Realizing the tight economic situation faced by the city government does not preclude forward thinking and the opportunity which is now at hand. Real estate values are at a temporary lull and the city would have this factor as well as the encumbrance of a condemnation process to gain a favor- able bargaining position with the current owner.
The many uses this property could be put to and the addition of the cultural and historical values far outweigh any temporary economic shortfall. Realizing also that the process necessary to acquiring this property will probably be in the neighborhood of three years. Listed below are some of the many uses I foresee as viable.
1. Rebuilding of main terminal building to serve as visitor center and cultural center.
2. Rebuilding of Kidder Mansion, done to exterior exactness and some interior recreation, which could serve as a Nevada County Historical Societies main headquarters. Funding to be done on a lease- back basis.
3. Kidder Mansion could also serve as the main entrance to a three-story wing annex for the Doris Foley research library. This could be done in league with the county on a 50-year lease-back, to provide revenue and funding.
4. Rebuilding of Main repair shop to serve as an annex to the Narrow Gauge Transportation Museum.
5. Sight for a statue to honor John Flint Kidder and Sarah Kidder. Their place and importance to the history of Nevada County has long been overlooked.
6. Possible site for U.S. Post Office Annex and/or vehicle storage to allow more public parking at main downtown facility.
Creative funding ideas to help finance this.
1. Issuance of a public bond measure.
2. Levying of a local sales tax percentage increase over a 10-year period.
3. Establishing a local committee of volunteer lawyers to aid in the legal steps necessary to property acquisition, and investigation into any state and federal funding which may be available.
4. Use of lease-back agreements with the county, the Historical Society, and the federal government.
5. Request that large projects such as the Loma Rica Ranch wanting city annexation be required to make sizable contributions to offset the negative impact they have on our environment.
Russell O. Bessonette lives in Grass Valley.
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