As I’ve written before, the Nevada City Council meeting always is good theater, and Wednesday night was no exception.
Better yet, when you watch the show on NCTV, you can stay for the whole shebang — in your “jammies,” no less.
On Wednesday night, the Council saved some of the best for last — though few people knew.
Why? The audience and the media had all gone home by then.
After a drawn-out discussion about a community garden, the council unanimously approved a street repair project to a Sacramento-based firm, Teichert Construction — one of its biggest outlays of the year. Only $25K of the more than $400K went to a local outfit, Hansen Bros. of Grass Valley.
Despite all the concern about keeping local construction work local, largely fueled by Obama’s economic stimulus package, nobody asked why the money went to an out-of-town firm instead, as it did last year. In this case, the money came from a city taxpayer supported initiative, Measure S, passed in 2007.
For background, read “We need a home-grown stimulus package” here.
There’s always a good reasons for going to outsiders: lower cost and more expertise for some projects. But the issue was not discussed.
On the other hand, the council made a point of complaining about another contract with the county Sheriff’s Office for police dispatch —also at the end of the meeting. Rood Center workers spend $$$ in Nevada City restaurants for lunch and shopping daily — nothing to sneeze at nowadays. The deal was approved.
The bulk of the meeting was a vintage Nevada City discussion about a small community garden: in this case, growing food locally. This proved to be a bigger deal politically than whether you plunk down 400K for road repair locally.
Despite the best of intentions, not everyone in the community was behind the concept of creating a community garden on private land off Broad Street. Still, some council members seemed eager to go ahead anyway — despite a neighbor’s legitimate concerns.
A better venue is within a public park: Callahan Park or Pioneer Park, for example. I’d go for that. Just address the cost and liability issue. The garden party was tabled for further discussion.
Council member David McKay made a good suggestion: put the garden in Callanan Park to help discourage the ongoing problem of loitering and concerns about illegal drug use —right across the street from the DA’s office, no less.
It sounded like a “twofer” solution and more natural than piping in classical music to encourage more peace and harmony.
I highly recommend watching government meetings on NCTV, where you can “stay” until the bitter end — in your PJs. It’s extremely enlightening if you really care about your community’s future as our family does.
A Council member forwarded the bids on the road-repair work late Thursday morning and apologized for not discussing the process at the meeting, which was running late from the “garden” discussion:
The bids were:
Hansen Brothers $84.89/ton $492,362 total
Teichert Constr. $74.49/ton $432, 042 toal
Central Valley Constr. $82.92/ton $480,936 total
As I suggested, the low bid was accepted. But what if local businesses were given a 10 percent preference, or something, on bids. As reported, a plan like this is in the works at Sierra College for construction stemming from a voter-approved ballot measure.
The “trickle down” impact on “shopping locally” is important in this day and age. Also, it’s always good to see if the low bid turns out to be just that — after “change orders” are accounted for. Just a thought.