Keep an open mind

Let’s carefully consider the best use of the upper portion of Upper Park Road

The CN&R has occupied a front-row seat for Chico’s hottest controversies in recent memory, including the sagas of Chico Scrap Metal and the Saturday farmers’ market. We’ve observed the way some issues touch a nerve, especially when they concern places and ideas central to the community’s identity.

That’s why we believe the city’s upcoming discussion regarding Upper Park Road could get people riled up (see this week’s cover story, by Howard Hardee, on page 18). After all, what’s more Chico than Bidwell Park?

In summers past, the road provided automobile access to some of the most distant areas of Upper Park, including Salmon and Brown’s holes. However, for about four years now, with the road in disrepair, the city has locked the gate near the Diversion Dam. The move has blocked access to motorists, effectively turning the upper reaches of the park into a space for hikers and mountain bikers.

What’s new is that city leaders are looking at fixing the road and considering whether or not to restore vehicle access.

Many folks are in favor of keeping the gate locked and turning the road into a hiker-biker thoroughfare. Not surprisingly, others argue that enjoying Upper Park’s most remote swimming holes is a quintessential Chico experience that shouldn’t be limited to people able to walk or bike to them.

This has the makings of another polarizing and drawn-out saga. We’re going to listen carefully during the public-input process and look over park staff’s proposals before adding our two cents. We urge the community to also keep an open mind as this conversation progresses, because it’s an issue worth careful consideration.