[This piece by Ms Jean Gerard was printed in the 4feb14 (paywalled) Union today. Ms Gerard was not sure that it would be published, so she sent me the piece to appear on RR as her byline. It is posted as received. My own remarks are addended below.]
We’ve heard from several folks through The Union about multiple downfalls of the Commercial Street Boardwalk – folks who live and work in Nevada City and have to deal with the nuisance that it is on a regular basis.
And I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who came here six years ago and loved our area. He had to leave for a few years, but recently returned and found a major change in the character of Nevada City. Not a change he praised. The trimmers, the pot smoking/selling, and the type of people in general the Boardwalk is attracting made it very distasteful to him. He was shocked. So it’s not just locals that notice the nuisance.
Marijuana isn’t the only business being conducted on and in the vicinity of the Boardwalk that’s not in alignment with that business district. If you read The Union on a regular basis you may remember that the Nevada City and Grass Valley Police did a ‘saturation patrol’ last August and arrested six people for drugs. Three of them were related to a heroin deal that happened right there on Commercial Street.
If you read the Police blotter, you see that there are calls on a regular basis regarding the goings-on in that area.
And the city planner says there are no physical impacts!
Mr. Kevin Fraser wrote a very good article in which he stated, “It’s fascinating to watch as tourists turn the corner and encounter the scene on the boardwalk and then quickly reverse course….”
I heard from another person who works at a business on that corner who also has witnessed tourists turning around, rather than continue down Commercial Street.
Mr. Conley Weaver said “Vehicular traffic is congested by the effective narrowing of the street and the wanderings of the Boardwalk people.” I can tell you that, more than once, I’ve been stopped from driving down the street because of the people standing in the middle of it – ‘socializing’ - and not caring that any auto traffic needed to get through.
Recently, I took the time to visit businesses on Commercial Street and ask a few questions to see how the business owners and employees ‘really’ feel about the Boardwalk.
Some of the questions I asked were the following: Has the Boardwalk increased or decreased loitering on Commercial Street? Overwhelmingly, the majority said “increased.” Would you like to see the Boardwalk stay or go? Again, overwhelmingly, the answer was “GO.”
There were other questions that also got the majority of answers weighing against the Boardwalk, but the city planner and a couple of members of the city council would like you to believe everyone is happy with it. That is not the case. It is seen, as Mr. Weaver said, as Skid Row by many.
Downtown Nevada City is an Historical District. There has been a red light district in town before, so the red light on Pete’s Pizza, in front of the Boardwalk, might be considered ‘historical’. (It might also be one reason tourists turn around at the corner of Pine and Commercial). However, at no time in history that I know of, has a roadway been taken up for people to ‘sit and socialize.’
Back to Mr. Fraser’s article: he said that he votes. And that he would “vote against every person in every capacity that has had anything to do with the creation and continuance of this incredible public nuisance.”
Nevada City residents, you’ve got two councilmen who need to be replaced if you have any hope of regaining and maintaining Nevada City’s charm. One’s term is up this year. And any city planner who says “Whether you like it or not is not what is considered. We have to review it based on facts” is another person who needs to go. She’s clearly arrogant, but she’s also delusional when she thinks there are no negative impacts. She is ignoring the facts. I suggest you work with your city council on a plan to appoint a new planner.
The city council meeting on February 5th will be filled with Reinette Senum shills to talk up the Boardwalk. The council needs to recognize this and act accordingly. The Boardwalk needs to go.
[Addendum The Commercial Street boardwalk pictured above was championed by former Nevada City mayor Ms Reinette Senum. At the time it was completed I saw it as a charming addition to the off-Broadstreet scene. I am not of the school holding that functional historical sites must retain every color and cornice the way it was during a given period. Nevada City has undergone significant changes in its 160+ year history, and the one we now claim to retain captures none of its epochs faithfully. But we have synthesized what to most people brings back echos of the fabled 19th century gold mining town in California's motherlode. And maintaining a semblance of that is good.
While not exactly a part of Nevada City's history, the boardwalk does replicate outdoor settings that began to appear in European cities and along our east coast during the 1800s. And having one in our town for tourists and locals to sit and take their ease on warm days and evenings is what the original intent of that construction was. But as Ms Gerard points out, things don't always go as hoped and planned, and many people today see that the locale has more than not gone to the dogs. NC has a big welcome mat that also attracts a wide variety of transients, drug distributors, people with no visible means of support, and even out-and-out low lifes who today use that comfortable setting for their socializing and commerce. I have witnessed it all while having coffee with friends in an adjoining establishment. In short, if our inviting and permissive city code is helpless to improve the situation to the benefit of visitors and Commercial Street businesses, then the boardwalk appears to have become a public nuisance and liability to our tourist trade. gjr]
[5feb14 update] Today's Union published an Other Voices by Ms Reinette Senum presenting the motivation and beneficial aspects of the Commercial Street boardwalk. All this publicity is in preparation for tonight's city council meeting where the boardwalk will be discussed. Here are the details - The Nevada City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 317 Broad St. It will also be televised on local public television, NCTV channel 17. For some reason The Union has not published the Senum piece in its online edition. I have captured her article as an image from the 5feb14 Union's print edition and posted it below. Apologies for the aspect ratio of the image; too lazy to mess with it further.
Also, the report that Ms Gerard is a NC Tea Party member is false, and I have corrected my post to reflect this.