Grass Valley backs county conservancy headquarters effort |

Grass Valley backs county conservancy headquarters effort

A divided Grass Valley City Council voted this week to support the Sierra Nevada Conservancy headquarters coming to Nevada County ” but not specifically to neighboring Nevada City.

The council was originally expected to vote on supporting Nevada City’s bid to host the headquarters of the new organization, but Grass Valley City Councilwoman Patti Ingram said she didn’t want to slight Truckee and questioned Nevada City’s ability to handle the “influx of people.”

“I just don’t think the cities need to be pitted against one another,” said Ingram, who was born in Nevada City. “I think the benefit for the county would be great.”

The conservancy was recently formed to secure tax dollars and grants to protect natural resources in the Sierra and promote local businesses.

Truckee and Nevada City ” along with several other Sierra communities, are vying to be the headquarters, which could bring 70 jobs and a $10 million budget into the community.

Ingram said Tuesday that she believes Grass Valley would benefit if the conservancy was located in either Nevada City or Truckee.

But when fellow City Councilman Dean Williams switched his proposal from backing Nevada City to supporting the county as a whole, he lost the votes of council members Lisa Swarthout and Mark Johnson.

Johnson said he stuck by Nevada City in an effort to “be neighborly.”

“I really feel Nevada City is trying to make a full court press. It’s more appropriate to endorse them, they’re the ones specifically asking for it,” Johnson said, adding the benefit to Grass Valley would be greater if the conservancy is located in Nevada City.

The headquarters of the conservancy is expected to be on the agenda during its first meeting, which could occur as soon as May. The six regions of conservancy have picked their representatives to the conservancy, but state representatives are still being selected.

Steve Frisch of the Truckee-based Sierra Business Council, which helped form the conservancy, said the headquarters decision could be affected by the community’s accessibility, high-speed communications, quality of life, and presence of affordable housing.

Frisch said all the lobbying and political positioning will likely go out the window when the board sits down to pick a headquarter location.

“To me this seems like a decision that is appropriate for the board of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to make,” said Frisch. “The board, I think, needs to make this decision without political pressure.”

While Truckee hasn’t been the most vocal in their request for the headquarters, that may make little difference in the end, said Frisch.

“I think lobbying is going to be a minor consideration in the decision,” said Frisch.

In addition to lobbying for the headquarters, Nevada City has also invited the conservancy to hold its first meeting in the city, Mayor Conley Weaver said. Truckee and its chamber of commerce have sent a letter to state and regional representatives saying it would like to serve as the seat of the conservancy.

The Sierra Sun’s David Bunker contributed to this article.

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