While some local movers-and-shakers were in Sacramento Thursday urging a speed-up to repair of the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, a Senate subcommittee was endangering the county’s prized tourist attraction.
And none of Nevada County’s leaders had a clue this was happening.
A state Senate subcommittee approved a recommendation to consider selling Empire Mine State Historic Park if a suitable buyer can be found, declaring it a toxic waste money pit the state is tired of supporting.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, whose district includes the park, voted for the measure. Apparently his staff didn’t alert local leaders about the proposal.
Since our leaders were caught unawares, nobody had a chance to be shocked. Grass Valley Mayor Dan Miller told The Union, “I haven’t heard anything about it. Until I get some type of verification on what exactly this is about, I can’t comment.”
Supervisor Terry Lamphier, whose district includes the park and who couldn’t wait to be interviewed by CBS13 when the Dorsey Drive shopping mall proposal surfaced, couldn’t be reached by The Union for comment.
Supervisor Hank Weston, who was in Sacramento to push for the bridge funding, apparently had no clue this was happening.
The recommendation to consider selling the park came in a vote to allocate $5 million to continue the clean-up of toxic materials left on the 850-acre site by the former owner, Newmont Mining Corp.
“The park has cost the state $36 million over the last six years due to toxic runoff from the mining operation…,” a staff report said. “This year’s budget includes another significant General Fund allocation to this park.”
The staff recommendation approved by the subcommittee proposed the transfer or sale of the property “with the proviso that the park remain in public hands.”
The only entity likely to meet those conditions is Nevada County, but there would be the ongoing clean-up costs and administration of the park (currently over $2 million a year). Or the state could just close it.
SECOND THOUGHT: Assemblyman Brian Dahle got a tour of the park about a year ago. Somebody should have invited Nielsen to tag along.