It’s not about city parks

Nancy Praizler is a member of the Bidwell Ranch Conservancy Board of Directors

It looks like we have short memories.

A developer is making an offer to the City of Chico to develop some of Bidwell Ranch like it was an original idea. And a referendum was mentioned to determine the people’s will like it is a new idea. We’ve had two referendums where the people loudly proclaimed that they wanted this land left open. What does it take?

The talk lately is about helping the city solve the problem of how to fund the parks. This latest financial challenge is just that, the latest financial challenge. And it’s being used as an argument for developing Bidwell Ranch. I think it’s a ruse.

Financial challenges never end. How we deal with them is what separates well-managed communities from the ordinary. Where is the creativity that acknowledges the people’s will on Bidwell Ranch and finds ways to meet this financial challenge? The easy road is development because we see it all around us.

But, Chico is an extraordinary city, and I know we can do better. Let’s think long-term. Let’s be a model for the state. Let’s do something that benefits our community, stimulates our citizens’ minds and senses and draws people to us because we’re innovative and good planners and Chico is the kind of place you just like being in. Let’s give people a natural setting, near home, with natural species that will become more unique as time goes on. Let’s offer future citizens a legacy: not of more houses, but of forward-thinking decisions that show respect for wildness and people—one that will be appreciated and will inspire future generations to do the same.

We need open space now more than ever, and as land becomes more expensive it will become harder to preserve it. This is not an issue about city parks. It’s a test of whether we can think beyond today and keep our commitments to the voters who spoke repeatedly for open space.

Urge the City Council members to vote "yes" April 5 to rezone Bidwell Ranch as open space.