Supervisor Green meets with Washington town residents
At least 20 residents of the unincorporated town of Washington came out to meet Supervisor Barbara Green and county staff at a Town Forum on Monday evening, July 7.On the agenda were Yuba River safety issues, park and recreation district formation, and speeding on the town’s main road. Lt. Lee Osborne, Mark Tomich, and John Rumsey represented the departments of Sheriff-Coroner, Planning, and Transportation and Sanitation, respectively.Yuba River safety is a big issue every summer, but this summer in particular has seen a high number of drownings. Residents believe tourists, especially older teens who drive from the Reno area, are unfamiliar with the Yuba’s dangerous currents, and take deadly safety risks.Drinking, drugs, and risky behavior contribute to some people “arriving in a car and leaving in a body bag,” according to Lt. Osborne.Rescue and recovery efforts are paid for by Nevada County taxpayers, and the expense can’t be billed to a victim’s family, Osborne explained. He said every spring the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department issues press releases to media in the Reno-Sparks area, warning of the river dangers and urging people not to drink or do drugs and swim in the river.So far, the primary outlet which has carried these messages has been the Reno Gazette-Journal. He also indicated that his department coordinates efforts with PG&E, the Forest Service, the BLM and private landowners to protect swimmers. PG&E tries to control the flow over its dam, but the spring runoff is so high it’s impossible to hold back the water without spilling over.Ultimately, the only solution is to stay out of the water.Osborne promised to contact the media earlier next year, and try to contact Web sites that promote recreation along the Yuba River to ensure they carry warning information.Residents expressed satisfaction overall with the sheriff’s presence and responsiveness to calls, but they had concerns about the local youth drinking, hanging out and causing trouble in town.When someone suggested there wasn’t enough for them to do, the lieutenant responded, “We have hiking, fishing, boating, skiing and mountain biking. National magazines write articles about Nevada County. It’s not that there isn’t enough to do; the kids are either not being encouraged or they just don’t want to do those things.”Lt. Osborne supported the community’s goal of avoiding “heavy-handed policing” and offered to assist with alternative solutions.That topic segued into an animated discussion of Washington’s inclusion in the proposed Nisenan Park District. Planning Director Mark Tomich explained the park district formation process, which is now in the hands of a specialized consulting firm, Shilts Consultants.Since Washington is not an incorporated town, the boundary between the proposed Nisenan and Twin Ridges park districts runs along the Yuba River, effectively dividing the community.Shilts has conducted a survey of residents in the proposed “benefit zones,” those areas that would benefit from a park or recreation facility. The feeling in Washington is that residents would not benefit from inclusion in either Twin Ridges or Nisenan, because they are remote, isolated, and have no plans for any kind of facilities such as a soccer field, pool, or lighted ball park.Tomich also promised to explore whether the current Washington School District boundary can serve in place of a “town” boundary, replace the natural river boundary and enable the entire community to be contained within either the Twin Ridges or Nisenan park district.The next step will be a benefit assessment election in the Fall 2003. If that is successful, then the district formation election occurs in March 2004, concurrent with the primary election in March 2004, where all voters within the proposed district boundaries would vote on whether a park district is to be formed. Only those property owners within the benefit zones would vote on the assessment.Supervisor Green indicated her plans to return to Washington in the fall, where she’ll follow up on the park and recreation district formation and other issues covered at Monday’s meeting.
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