At least 25 Veterans and community leaders met with Grass Valley city leaders on Thursday inside the Veterans Memorial Building to discuss the building of a pickleball court.
City leaders recently approved the building of a more than $180,000 pickleball court inside the city’s memorial park. The city manager, Mayor, and project design engineer attended the meeting to communicate their plans.
Eight months ago, the city as approached by a pickleball group of nearly 100 people to build the court, said City Manager Tim Kiser. Pickleball is cross between tennis, ping pong, and racquet ball that is quickly becoming popular in Grass Valley.
However, some veterans are objecting to the proposed location at Memorial Park which is dedicated to Nevada County Veterans and others who served in the United States armed forces. Inside the park are several monuments, stones, plaques, and a wall commemorating the men and women who have died.
Some of the memorials date back 100 years.
"One of the things that people are screaming at us at, is 'we do not want to go into the park because of the elements there,’” said Kiser. “And we're trying to find solutions to bring people into this park."
In recent years, the park has become riddle with crime issues that have been difficult to police, because of the small city’s limited police staff.
Drugs, fighting, vandalism of the memorials were some of the issues named. David Collins attended the meeting, he is a U.S. Navy veteran and also lives across the street from the park.
"I can't let my kids out, in the yard to play because I don't want them to be exposed to that,” said Collins.
Collins, 49, said the building of a pickleball court may draw in a positive crowd to the area which may push out crime in the park.
However, he said the city must consider where it is built so it doesn’t disrupt the memorials in place at the park. The park currently has a baseball field, tennis courts, playground area, and a swimming pool.
The proposed location of the pickleball courts are near a grouping of trees which were planted to honor World War I veterans who lost their lives, under each tree are plaques explaining so.
Kiser explained in the course of studying the area, a city hired arborist learned that some of the memorial trees are diseased and action must be taken for liability reasons.
Pete Vasilakos, 79, is an Army Veteran living in Nevada County that served during the Vietnam war frustrated with the recent decisions.
"What it means to me it we're honoring our Veterans. Never, ever forget them,” said Vasilakos.
City leaders and local veterans agreed to continue conversations and work together over the course of the next month to find a suitable location for the courts within the park.