On Wednesday evening I attended the Nevada City planning commission’s special meeting to introduce KVMR’s bold proposal to transform the blighted tin sheds at the corner of Spring and Bridge Streets into a new home for the radio station. Having seen a few conceptual drawings of the building, I knew there would be oppsition, and I was not disappointed.
I’m a veteran of these kind of gatherings. Over the years I’ve watched many a developer get roasted at the Altar of Aesthetics. Just replacing a brick or board can bring howls of protest from the neighbors and historical purists. KVMR was asking to actually remove a tin treasure in the heart of the district, and replace it with something entirely different. They hoped to sweeten the tin pot by adding some extra feet to the truly historic Nevada Theatre, which needs the extra space to deal with the needs of a 21st century venue. (Dressing rooms and maybe a shower.)
But there is a problem. The tin sheds are an historical eyesore, and the commandments set forth in the holistorical scrolls forbids the willing destruction of any structure old enough to gather cobwebs. Never mind that they are an architectual travesty that would never be approved by anyone in the civilized world today. Never mind that the only thing that keeps them vertical is a tree.
One by one, the keepers of the gaslit torch stepped up to the microphone to voice their objections, and they did make some good points concerning the size and design of the building. (I knew they were in trouble as soon as I saw the sign, a miniature radio tower embelished with the station’s call letters. In Nevada City, the object of a sign to to not attract attention.)
So it’s back to the drawing board. Let’s hope that the project and the preservationists can find some common ground to build a foundation for the future. KVMR is a prized asset and a vital ingredient in promoting the City. And the space occupied by the useless rotting sheds is a waste of a valuable resource.