In 2009 Ryan Snyder Associates led a “Walkability Audit” of the downtown area in conjunction with Live Healthy Nevada County, FREED (an independent living resource center), public officials, staff and local residents. One of the highest priority outcomes was to make Commercial Street a more pedestrian and family-friendly area. Although a number of revitalization ideas were suggested at the time, including making the street “shared space,” it was quickly recognized that economic constraints were not going to allow any major infrastructural changes in the near term.
Shortly after the Walkability Audit, in March of 2010, the Nevada City City Council sanctioned the development of the Nevada City Sustainability Team to create a holistic plan to develop and implement priority projects addressing three broad areas: economic vitality and resiliency; healthy ecosystems; and community well being. Councilwoman Reinette Senum, then mayor, assembled an ad hoc committee of local experts to establish the framework for planning and to identify and prioritize projects. Through a series of public workshops and weekly ‘sustainability team’ meetings, a matrix of projects was identified and prioritized based upon local benefits, partnerships and need. One of the identified priority revitalization projects was the Commercial Street Beautification initiative.
Following a community survey, volunteers from the Sustainability Team developed the “Commercial Street Beautification Plan,” which they then presented to City Planning and the City Council for review. After addressing a number of concerns, the City Council approved the implementation of the pilot project.
This project is part of the larger revitalization effort to make Nevada City a more sustainable community. In recent years, Nevada City has been working to reclaim the commons through the Union Street development project, which included the rehabilitation of Robinson Plaza, the establishment of the Nevada City Farmers Market and the on-going planning and redesign effort for Calanan Park as well as the redevelopment of the adjacent 28,000 square foot Alpha Building. The Commercial Street Beautification Project constitutes an integral element within a broader downtown revitalization effort.
The overall purpose of the project is to create a low cost micro-park in close proximity to a business corridor to stimulate economic activity while providing a comfortable space for residents and visitors to enjoy the historic character and culture of the downtown.