How much is the park worth?

Put your money where your mouth is to help preserve Bidwell Park

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

Ask anyone here what makes Chico special and the answers at the top of the list will always include “Bidwell Park.” The park is more than one of the largest municipal parks in the country hosting nearly 2 million visits every year. It is at the core of who we are. It is the heart and lungs of a landscape that is unique in its combination of urban charm and thrilling wildness.

Ask yourself: Whatever the reason you and your family came to Chico, is the park part of the reason you stayed? And then ask yourself: What is that worth?

We know that the city is under budgetary siege. Are we ready to endure the pain of draconian cuts? Or are we willing to step in and pay for that which defines us as a community?

Picture this: Upper Park Road is closed. The trails to Monkey Face are washed out. A fire has denuded all sides of Ten Mile House Road. There are no lifeguards at Sycamore Pool. Restrooms go uncleaned. And the trees are un-pruned and declining. Valley-oak seedlings choke under tangles of invasive blackberry vines. A chain locks the gate at Caper Acres.

Are we willing to accept this?

How much is Bidwell Park worth to us? We take pride in saying, “We’re from Chico, the town with Bidwell Park.” As the stewards of this place for a short while, it is our duty to do better.

How much is your park worth? When you spend a dollar at the coffee shop, is the park worth a penny? When you lounge in your back yard and know that you live in a town with a park like Bidwell (and your house is worth more because of it), is it worth a few dollars?

Let’s tell the leadership of our city that it is worth our pennies and dollars, and that we’ll do what we need to preserve it. Because we’re willing to add a few dollars in taxes in order to pass along to our grandchildren that which makes us who we are.

If you’re new to Chico, Bidwell Park might seem like just another place behind a gate, and so, why not leave the gate closed? But Bidwell Park is more than that. It’s who we are and we need to do the right things to keep that gate open.