Chico City Plaza five years later

Now we can see it was tax dollars well spent

The author is a local farmer and owner of California Organic Flowers.

Today it would be hard to find someone who does not enjoy the Chico City Plaza and does not feel that it was a great investment in our small city. But, in 2006, when the plaza renovations were completed, many citizens questioned the wisdom of spending millions of tax dollars on this project.

Comments such as these filled the newspapers:

“I don’t like any of it & I’m upset that progress has to rip up something that’s been there all my life. I don’t understand why they have to take up the park and ruin it.”

“I just think this is rude. Too much concrete, not enough grass and no shade. Yeah, 30 years down the line when I’m dead there will be shade (when the trees grow), but that’s not going to do me any good.”

Today, on the fifth anniversary of its completion, the City Plaza has become a lovely, vibrant community gathering spot. Children play in the fountain, musicians frequent the stages, and the elevated grass islands allow a diverse population of citizens to enjoy the park while preventing the grass from becoming the trammeled mud pit of the past.

Not only is the plaza a place to recreate, it is also place to demonstrate and act upon our First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and speech. And, yes, in five short years the plaza now has plenty of shade due to an excellent choice of tree species and through expert care by city arborists.

At a time when government is being criticized for being “too big” and any and all taxation is considered taboo, I think it is worth recognizing our 2003 Chico City Council members—Steve Bertagna, Scott Gruendl, Coleen Jarvis, Dan Herbert, Dan Nguyen-Tan, Larry Wahl and Maureen Kirk—for taking a huge political risk and approving funding for the plaza renovation project.

I hope when people are feeling let down by government, that they stop and look for the many examples of how our representative democracy serves us by providing services and completing public projects. As the renovation of the Chico City Plaza clearly shows, the responsible allocation of tax revenue serves everyone.