NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 16, 2023 – Last Friday, Nevada City’s Park Initiative Committee held a meeting to discuss the possible reallocation of grant funds to create a skatepark. Young residents and their parents showed up and explained why a skatepark in Nevada City is important to them. The committee agreed and will forward the recommendation to the full city council for a vote.

Parks Committee meeting. Photo YubaNet
Parks Committee meeting. Photo YubaNet

Over 75 people attended the meeting (a record for small committee meetings) to encourage the city to move forward with the project.

The grant funding was originally slated to go to Seven Hills School to cover the field with artificial turf. While the grant funding of $1million would not be sufficient for the whole project, providing a e focused on a drug free, youth, athletic, sports, outdoor kind of activity is a requirement for the grant. City Manager Sean Grayson explained: “The reason that this item comes before this committee is relative to a grant award that we received for a field amenity in partnership with the school district that was anticipated to go at Seven Hills. There are some challenges there, not that they’re insurmountable necessarily, but there are certainly some challenges there. And the options have been put forward by the council and by others to reconsider that grant award. In order to do that, this committee would need to recommend to the council that the council direct staff, meaning me, to ask the state to reconfigure that grant award… The money is derived from cannabis taxation at the state level, and then they put it into grants that they give out locally. We received $3 million over five years, 1 million of it for this new youth park. The amenity is supposed to be focused on a drug free, youth, athletic, sports, outdoor kind of activity. And so if council wanted to do that, it’s just kind of a procedural thing to get to the point where we could ask for permission. But it’s great to engage the community on how we do that. The second thing, if any of you looked at our agenda, is about an offer from Mr. Anderson, who’s with us this afternoon, potentially partnership with the city to use some of the space at Tech Center for this and other purposes. So it’s up to the committee how they want to proceed, but obviously they want to hear from all of you.”

Councilmember Doug Fleming added, “the ultimate goal is to turn this area into not just a skatepark, but to have a pump track, to have meditation and yoga centers and all kinds of other features. One of the things that I’ve been saying is that if your family is resourced, you can send your kids to sports after school. But there’s a lot of kids who don’t have that opportunity, and there’s no place for them to go. Right now, they’re hanging in Pioneer Park, which is fine, but idle hands. You know how that goes. Having a facility like this, that is going to be staffed with something like a good time shop or a snack shop. There would be some training going on. And my thought is, if this comes to fruition, is that, like they do up in Truckee and train people for the Olympics, that we would have Olympic features on the skate park. So our kids could be trained by pros on features that could lend them to going to the Olympics one day, or at least competing at that level.”

Nevada City School District Superintendent John Baggett attended the meeting and acknowledged he was probably the only person in the room that would vote for the turf over a skatepark, but added: “I would just like to say I am very pro skate park. I took my daughter, we live in Grass Valley, so I took my daughter to the skate park every Saturday morning for years. I’m working with the sheriff’s department and some of our students to have we have a skate enrichment program going, and we kind of turn a blind eye to kids skating on our campuses as long as they’re not ruining property. And of course, we want you to wear your helmets because our insurance companies like that. It’s the right thing to do. Right. So I’m not here to disagree with Doug. I’d love to have a skate park in the town… But I’d like to advocate that the award letter that states that we’re in that grant, that we stick with that.”

Fleming suggested the city’s newly-hired grant writers could be made available to find new grant opportunities for the school district, “to write grants, to get the grass field redone, to get a track, and to get some of the other things that the school needs. So we’re not just taking money back and leaving them hanging.”

Parents, skaters united for a park

Parents, skaters and roller skaters voiced their opinions. The active participation of young residents in this local government meeting was remarkable, and greeted with applause from their peers and parents.

Rachael said “I am a mom and a concerned member of our community. I would like to emphasize the crucial need for a skate park in our city. I firmly believe that the investment in a skate park would not only benefit our community, but also bring several advantages that we cannot afford to overlook. First and foremost, a skate park can significantly boost tourism in our city. Skateboarding is not just a sport, but a vibrant that has dedicated following. With a skate park, we can attract skateboarders from near and far, bringing in additional revenue from our local businesses and further enhancing our city’s appeal to tourists. Skateboarders often travel to visit well designed skate parks and have sorry, but having one of our own, we can tap into the growing market benefiting local shops, restaurants and hotels. Having a dedicated skate park provides a safe and controlled environment for skateboarders of all ages to practice and enjoy their passion. This ensures that our youth have a constructive outlet for their energy and creativity, reducing the chances of accidents and disturbances in other areas of our city. By investing in a skate park, we demonstrate our commitment to providing recreational opportunity for all residents, including skateboarders. One of the most admirable aspects of skateboarding community is culture, unity and acceptance. Skateboarding fosters a sense of belonging and togetherness around skateboarders, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or background. This inclusive environment encourages mutual respect and helps our youth develop social skills and friendships that last a lifetime. Actually, I met my husband 25 years at a skatepark. By supporting a skatepark, we promote these positive values within our community. The construction of a skate park in our city is not just an investment in recreational facilities, but a statement to our commitment to our residents well being and our city’s prosperity. By attracting skateboarders and tourists, providing a safe place for skaters, and fostering unity, unity and acceptance, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen our community. I kindly request that you consider the proposal seriously and allocate the necessary resources for developing a skate park in our city. Together, we can create a vibrant, united and welcoming community for everyone.” Applause ensued.

Park Committee meeting, audience.
A very engaged audience. Photo YubaNet

Jay said, “It’s such a beautiful town, this is the one thing that I noticed when I moved up here. There’s absolutely nothing for the youth to engage. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful schools from the elaborate system at NU, the theater alone, which is amazing, and all the other schools that have great things going on. Even the curriculum, I think, is pretty incredible in that sense. But there is nowhere for the youth to commune now… I’d rather see them bomb them up and down Commercial Street than get into trouble… We got all these magnificent skaters in town, but there’s no place to skate. We invest our money and time when we allow or give permits for every single type of brew joint, wine joint, meat joint, party club, et cetera. So why can’t we invest in the youth, in the future, those youth that are here now… I agree it should be 100% drug free. It needs to be… Young people, this is where you guys need to step up and start advocating and speaking up for yourselves. Forget about these adults talking. This is for you. And you guys need to come up here, let them know exactly how you feel about it, how strongly you feel there’s a need for you.”

‘Crazy’ spoke up next, “This is my son, Harley. I’m a skate dad. I don’t skate. I ride motorcycles, things like that. I’m at the park seven days a week. I pick him up from high school and go to Condon [Park.] We’re there unless we’re at a skate event. We were just in Truckee, good times. Come out and watch the people that come out, see what happens out at a skate event and see the kids here. It’s an Olympic sport. We’re not talking about just skaters anymore. We’re talking Olympic sport. I don’t just dump my kid off at the park. I sit there. I’m one of the dads that’s fortunate enough able to watch what my son does. We see a lot of things. And these kids, we travel to parks outside the county. You show up at a park, they don’t know each other, but they know the board. They know the park next. They know you’re from Grass Valley. He’s instagramming kids from San Francisco, Southern California, Arizona, Houston, Texas. And that’s just my son traveling around. He skates every day and that’s what his heart is. He’s not a jock. He’s not going to play football. He’s not going to play basketball. He’s not going to play baseball. Who would sink millions of dollars into these kids? And it’s Olympic sports. So why are we hesitant to keep these kids out of trouble in the skate parks and learn what they need? Thank you.”

His son Harley stated, “My name is Harley. I’m a junior in Nevada Union High School. I feel like this skate park would be such a good idea because, like, what my dad says, we travel all over the world and we visit so many different skate parks around everywhere. I feel like I was just thinking about this if you guys do build the park, maybe one half would be street for all street riders and then maybe one half would transition. Kind of how Condon is. Like my dad said, I feel like skating is probably the one thing I want to do when I grow up because I’ll be a senior next year and yeah, I don’t know what my future career is going to be. Because skating is like the one thing I want to do.”

Chloe addressed the funding for the field, “Like the field, I don’t really understand that. I went to Woolman School, we didn’t have a field at all. We didn’t have grass. We had like, hydro turf or whatever. So we got along just fine with there being no field, no running tracks, no bougie plastic grass. That’s just going to deteriorate and never, ever just advance the environment. I don’t like running anyway. But that doesn’t matter, they’re going to make us run laps. No one really likes PE anyway. We all love skating here.” [Applause]

Isaac, a dad and local business owner chimed in, “I’ve been a local business owner for ten years. I love this town, and I want my kids to love this town and feel pride in their town. And I think having a skate park they can feel good about and brag with their friends about is really important, honestly, to build a sense of pride in where you live. Also, I homeschool my two boys, and in a way, we’re kind of isolated as a family. My kids feel a little isolated, and when we go to the skatepark in Grass Valley, they kind of feel like they’re part of the community, and I meet up with my friends, my other dads in the community. It’s become like a father son thing that we do, and it’s awesome. It’s great to see other dads out there with their kids. Really nice way to connect. And honestly, at first, I would bring my kids and watch them. I thought I was kind of too old for it. Then my son bought me a skateboard for Christmas. I’m in full support as a business owner. I think it’s a great idea.”

Gus, a longtime resident and business owner, commented, “There is tax revenue and other revenue sources for organized sports and school stuff. Skateboarding doesn’t have that, there’s no tax dollars coming in. I pay school taxes on my property, and I don’t have kids, but I do skateboard. Not to take away from the importance of organized sports or turfs or any of that kind of stuff, because those are valuable to the community and to schools and to the youth. I think in this sense, a good usage of the money would go towards something that doesn’t have revenue. I’m also currently a board member on Nevada County Skate, which is the newest nonprofit organization that is currently helping liaison between the skate community and the city of Grass Valley and getting renovated and a new park built there, common park. And we would like to extend our services to the city of Nevada City to help facilitate this as well.”

Hollie, also a NCS board member, agreed, “I’m a mom of two boys, so I kind of find the validity in both a field and a skatepark. I spend my Saturdays at Scotten Field watching my nine-year-old play soccer, and then Sunday mornings work on the park. Every day that my shop is open, I have numerous people coming in, whether they skateboard or roller skate, asking, where do we skate in Nevada City? And it’s hard for me because I can’t direct them to a tennis court or a pickleball court or a street, because that’s not our space. We don’t really have that space. On behalf of the community of Nevada City and Roller skaters, we 100% need something here.”

Roller skater Devin said, “I grew up here and I came back as an adult. Now I roller skate. I love to roller skate at the skate park. I remember coming to meetings in high school to observe community meetings at the City Hall, I think it’s really cool to see our kids today getting an opportunity to impact really positive change on their lives in their community. I also play roller derby and we practice down in Auburn, but half of our team lives up here. AWe have like a really busy juniors team as well, girls and boys from literally age six through 18. I think it’d be cool if we had a space where we could host roller derby bouts up here as well. And with that, I got to go to practice.”

Audience members also said they would be happy to volunteer if the skatepark construction required additional hands.

Council Member Adam Kline weighed in after the public comment, “I was elected last year, so I was knocking on doors and everything trying to get votes. The thing I kept hearing again and again was, we need someplace for our kids to go. I would say they should start a band. And then these people would say, my kid’s not musically talented. And I said, that never stopped anyone I knew. [chuckles] I’ll tell you, the grumpy people who are sick of kids skating by their house and stuff, they want a skate park more than anyone in this room does in terms of volunteers. They’re going to show up, be like, how can we get this done? So there’s enthusiasm all around for this and I appreciate you guys coming.”

The committee will submit the recommendation to reallocate the funding for a skatepark to the city council for consideration and possible action. Also included will be a recommendation tp assist the school district in securing funding for their facilities’ upgrades.

Next steps

The possible reallocation of the grant funding is likely to be on the November 8th City Council agenda. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm and is open to the public. Members of the public are invited to comment on any item on the agenda.