Ready to exercise, no place to go

Michael Jones is a family dentist and advocate for public access to open spaces

A middle-aged bulge seemed to be developing near my belly button, so heeding the surgeon general’s advice to exercise more I headed over to the Tree Introduction Gardens to go on a walk.

It was a bit crowded, so I got to wondering how the Comanche Creek Greenway was going. I remembered the Chico City Council conservatives wanted to make an Otterson Drive extension and a park out of it, but the liberals held steadfast to make it all a park. Last election the liberals held sway, so I expected by now some progress on the park should be made.

To my dismay, a tall chain link fence surrounds Comanche Creek right where the main access was supposed to be. Well, I know Mayor Maureen Kirk was going to add Bidwell Ranch to Bidwell Park, so I head up past Wildwood Avenue to exercise there. Wildwood was very crowded, but Bidwell Ranch had sprouted no-trespassing signs at the spot where you used to be allowed to enter. I didn’t want to be one of the herd at Wildwood or in an indoor gym, but I was starting to feel fenced in.

Then I remember that it was the conservatives on council who had enthusiastically supported the Annie Bidwell Trail access to the huge and inaccessible 1994 addition to Bidwell Park, and that it was the liberals who hemmed and hawed and finally killed it earlier this year. But liberals run on a pro-parks platform! Where had I seen this before?

Oh yes, it was when we were all asked to support passage of Prop. 12 park bonds and the funding for the Chico State University Ecological Reserve. But once CSU management got title to the land, it chased off those who had helped it and now only grudgingly allows entrance to the public.

I love CSU; it is a big part of what makes Chico great. But some of the top brass seem a little selfish. A check of the CSU faculty list revealed the mayor’s husband, two of the liberal councilmembers and the city manager on the payroll. And the CSU president is the top cowboy of the ecological preserve. It started to make sense why these people think alike. Their management style is to contain all the people in an increasingly small space, like cattle in a feedlot. But I was trying to exercise to avoid fattening up!