More than 100 people attended a joint meeting of the Nevada City Council and Nevada school board on Monday evening at Gates Hall. The joint meeting was a time for the public to weigh in about the proposed multi-faceted project that the city and school have proposed to build a new recreation center, build a new high school baseball field, redesign the old baseball field area into soccer practice fields and transfer ownership of Gates Hall from the city to the school.
Eleven people, including one teenager, spoke out about the proposal. Nine of them spoke in favor, one spoke against and one asked a few questions.
Businessman Larry Sloan had a couple questions concerning the new rec center and whether it would have seating for spectators, since one of the intentions for the facility would be to host volleyball and basketball tournaments on its three full-sized basketball courts area that will be surrounded by a track. City Council member Brian Hanson said there would be portable bleachers for the facility that could be set up when needed. Sloan’s other question, which had to do with what would be the return on investment, couldn’t be specifically answered at this time.
Those speaking in favor of the plans all followed the first speaker, Janelle Melohn, who has been an outspoken advocate for a community recreation center. “I’ve been to every single forum you’ve had,” she said, and she reminded the City Council that it was a year or so ago when she came before them to talk about how badly a recreation center was needed.
Melohn thanked the City Council and school board for being “thoughtful and engaging everyone” in the discussion. She firmly believes that all the benefits that come with a recreation facility far outweigh any drawbacks. “Those communities that have rec centers (and she mentioned a number of similar-sized communities that do, including nearby Huxley and Gilbert), have better outcomes,” Melohn said. “Studies also show that (rec centers) increase property values … it’s something people look for when moving to a community.”
Speaking out against the plans was Nevada business owner and candidate for City Council Charlie Good, who said there were less costly options for the city and school than spending $750,000 for a new baseball field. He encouraged putting up some new lights at the present field as one idea. Good also isn’t in favor of a transfer of Gates Hall to the school, though he said he understands some of the reasoning behind it. He suggested that if the rentals at Gates Hall are down, then lower the rental rate. As for a new rec center, Good said he worries about how it will be paid for and maintained.
“As a businessman, I want to see Nevada grow, but if you look at population since 2010, we’ve grown 140 people, that’s it. If you want to grow … build houses first — roads and houses,” he said. Good said he was also concerned about how the three fitness centers in town will survive if a new rec center is built.
Councilman Brett Barker presented a proposed timeline for the plans, and best case scenario, a new rec center would be completed by fall of 2019; a new baseball field (also to be called Billy Sunday Field) would be ready for games by summer of 2019 and the old Billy Sunday field would be surfaced for soccer practices by fall of 2020.