Our View: Pickleball resolution a good example of government working alongside its people
November 17, 2017
This is the way it's supposed to work.
The government puts forth a plan, but the people don't like it. Rather than forging ahead, elected officials stop and listen to their constituents, go back to the drawing board and try to work out solutions to address their concerns.
That's what happened this week as the city of Grass Valley worked to resolve a controversy over its plans to build permanent pickleball courts at Memorial Park. Veterans took issue with the project encroaching upon the park's picnic area and adjacent memorials to fellow veterans.
A tree planned for removal and its memorial plaque will now stay put and the planned pickleball courts will be moved to another area of the park.
... it seems to be a rare occasion to see such compromise, particularly across political divide.
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Sounds simple enough, but the path to compromise was a bumpy ride.
Frustration from veterans came with the Grass Valley City Council approving the $185,000 project to build pickleball courts without, veterans said, their concerns given enough consideration.
On Tuesday, City Manager Tim Kiser took responsibility for what he said was essentially a failure to communicate and extended an apology.
"It came to our attention that we did not get sufficient input on the initial process, which I will take 100 percent of the blame for and own that mistake," Kiser said. "We should have reached out to the veterans in a more diverse fashion … We thought we were communicating correctly, but we were not."
Credit to Kiser for taking a corrective course so that opposition to the project was aptly addressed and adjusting the city's plans in response. Our veterans also deserve recognition for stepping forward and ensuring they were heard.
But it should also be said that the city of Grass Valley — and all of western Nevada County, for that matter — has long showed its dedication to our veterans, who comprise nearly 10 percent of our community's population.
This was certainly not an intentional slight to those who served.
Annual ceremonies observing Veterans Day and Memorial Day, which includes a unique tour of veterans plaques all across the community, are regularly well attended. And the more than 1,400 names on memorial plaques at Memorial Park, with plans to soon add more, serve as a permanent display of our appreciation for the sacrifices made in service to our country.
City officials also deserve credit for even proposing the project, after again listening to constituents. Although it turned out to be a rough draft, the original plan to add pickleball courts came in part to a response from area residents concerned about our parks being overrun with crime. Adding new attractions could help bring more people to the park and mitigate bad behavior there.
And if the city is successful in securing a $5 million grant — though officials acknowledged it's a "long shot" — there could be more on the way, like an indoor pool, a recreation center and an all-weather soccer field. Such a project would also be a good example of responding to residents, as all three have long been sought in western Nevada County.
We are aware other examples of the government hearing and addressing community concerns — such as Friday morning's decision by the Nevada Irrigation District to reopen public access to across the Scotts Flat Lake spillway — but it seems to be a rare occasion to see such compromise, particularly across political divide.
We encourage all elected officials, government leaders and engaged members of the public to follow those examples to make this community a better place to live.
The weekly Our View column represents the viewpoint of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.