Finding Lost Park

Park Commissioner weighs in on ‘a small slice of green space’

The author is a longtime resident of Chico who has served on the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission for the past seven years.

Thank you for your feature story on the current state of Lost Park (“Lost in transition,” by Tom Gascoyne, Sept. 29). It was thoughtful and respectful of both the people who take refuge in this part of Bidwell Park and those who are working to transform this small slice of green space from “lost” to “found.”

As a member of the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission for seven years, I can attest to the thought and consideration that have gone into various deliberations about Lost Park over the years. I can also attest to my (and other commissioners’) frustration with many of the same issues the CN&R story explores.

In fact, the current commission’s desire to address these issues is precisely why the BPPC has included working on a conceptual plan for Lost Park in our biannual work plan, recently submitted to and accepted by the Chico City Council.

By including Lost Park in our work plan, which sets out priorities on which the commission will focus for the next two years, the BPPC felt that, if we could serve as a catalyst for jump-starting the necessary city-wide discussions, this would be a service well placed and time well spent. I personally pushed for addressing the needs of Lost Park because this small part of Chico is so ripe to play a much, much bigger role in the natural and cultural life of our city.

But of course the Park Commission is but one small player in this effort. Property owners, downtown businesses, homeless advocacy groups, Chico State, and “ordinary” citizens will all have to play very active roles.

If the city pivots and, instead of turning its back to Big Chico Creek here, turns to face and embrace it, we could do far, far more than clean up a stretch of river bank and install a bike path (wonderful as those changes would be). Clearly this stretch of creek could become a vital and vibrant new piece of downtown Chico.

If bringing the various constituents together to forge a progressive plan for Lost Park needs to begin with the BPPC finally tying this last part of Bidwell Park together with the other 3,500-plus acres, then so be it. I am certain that the current Park Commission is up to the task. Who else will join us?