GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) — Neighbors are saying a secret was hidden with the long-promised interchange in Grass Valley promising a quicker trip to the hospital and other hot spots.
The Dorsey Drive interchange has been talked about for nearly 25 years, but now that it is being built, some neighbors are saying the city deceived them.
They claim little has been said about building a shopping mall on 26 acres of land along Dorsey Drive.
“It just feels as if there’s been evasiveness in terms of being honest and straightforward,” said Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier.
For years the city talked about the Dorsey Drive interchange as a way to ease traffic in the Gold Rush town.
“[It was] originally pitched as access to the hospital, for instance. No mention of this,” said Larry Hoffman.
But the city claims that’s not the case. The opportunity to develop the land came after the construction of the interchange.
“If the city had that in mind at the time they were designing Dorsey they would have in fact been rezoning adjacent properties for commercial, none of that’s happened,” said Grass Valley City Manager Bob Richardson.
Nearby business owners like Emil Badoni of Weiss Brothers Nursery says regardless of the original intentions of the interchange, the project will keep shoppers in town who now go elsewhere.
“We are way down,” he said. “We don’t have the car dealers here anymore so anything new like local stores aside from big box, why not?”
Lamphier says he’s in favor of keeping tax dollars in the area, but wonders why the city spent nearly $6 million in redevelopment dollars on the interchange.
“Which was originally intended to be used to fix the streets in downtown Grass Valley and it was redirected to the Dorsey Interchange,” he said.
Richardson says the city merely reinvested the money it would have needed to give back to the state.
“When redevelopment money was being closed down, most cities were in the position, you give the money back to the state or invest in a project you currently had underway,” he said. “That is exactly what happened here.”
The interchange is months away from opening, but it may no longer come with the fanfare once expected when construction began.
The first public meeting on this project will take place on Tuesday at 9 a.m., where a lot of neighbors say they will be to voice their concern.