Our View: Let’s leave the hyperbole out of this
Now that the plans for the proposed “Dorsey Marketplace” have been submitted to the City of Grass Valley, western Nevada County will no doubt revisit a debate that has often dominated discussion over plans for development here.
Essentially it boils down to striking a balance between our community’s rural quality of life and its need for economic growth.
But far too often we strike out when it comes to finding that balance, leading to obstinate arguments — whether from an “all-out growth”, “smart growth,” “slow growth” or “no growth” perspective — that produce more angst than actual economical progress in our community.
We would like a different conversation, one focused on finding that balance.
A 26.75-acre shopping center, the 217-square-foot “Dorsey Marketplace” is one of the largest commercial or retail developments proposed in many years. It will certainly have an impact, but what that would be remains to be seen. Although the application has been filed with the city, it has not yet been available to the public. City officials who will review the document say they will display it on the city’s website — CityOfGrassValley.com — soon.
Among potential positives, the property owner, Russell Jeter, suggests the creation of 400-450 retail jobs — in addition to hiring local contractors to do the work.
And, not so positively, folks are concerned about Dorsey Marketplace pulling customers away from our historic downtowns, pinching mom and pops out of business and creating more store-front vacancies in the process.
They’re also concerned about the impact on traffic in that part of town; after all, didn’t we just get that worked out with the Dorsey Drive Interchange?
But what if local businesses see this as an opportunity to grow through relocation, perhaps without carrying the burden of building their own facility? What if mom and pops were actually pulled into the plan?
What if the project’s design could be one to be modeled with a green building approach, as with the innovative BriarPatch Co-Op building? What if the project included solar power, subterranean building or drought-resistant rooftop gardens to minimize the use of energy and that of our increasingly precious water?
What if more Nevada County dollars actually stayed in Nevada County?
What if we weren’t spending more than $200 million annually outside our community? Or if our sales tax revenue actually funded our own public services and not those of Roseville or Rocklin? What if we generated enough sales tax revenue that we wouldn’t be dependent upon ballot measure taxes to make ends meet? What if we were able to pay our police, fire and teachers enough that we’d stop losing them to higher-paying Placer County positions?
What if? We won’t know unless we ask.
And, although we plan to take Mr. Jeter up on his expressed desire to hear from the community, those are actually all questions that we should be asking ourselves. Questions to be posed to the entire community, as the impacts of this project, good or bad, certainly extend beyond the Grass Valley city limits. Although the decision will ultimately be that of the city, stakeholders in Nevada City and surrounding county communities also should be taking a seat at the table.
But the discussion should not solely focus on this one proposed project, as its impact will not be nearly as good or as bad as some will suggest. A commercial retail development isn’t the silver bullet for our lagging local economy, and it certainly won’t turn Grass Valley into Roseville.
And, on that note, we’ll suggest no one who lives here wants to “Roseville” Grass Valley. Nor do we believe this natural beauty surrounding us, which makes us so blessed to call this home, will be reduced to ever resemble such.
So let’s leave the hyperbole out of this. Let’s come to the table for a serious talk about this project — and about the future of our community — one based in respect and open to concerns shared by all stakeholders.
In short, let’s take a new approach.
Let’s stop looking for a fight, in order to find conversations that will actually seek solutions.
The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members.
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