Think outside the block

Put the Saturday farmers’ market in the parking lot next to Lost Park

A Chico resident since 1991, the author has a master’s degree in public health and is a retired environmental-health specialist for Butte County.

When I read that a local icon, Saturday’s Chico Certified Farmers’ Market, was thinking about building a restroom/office, I was pleased because it is needed but puzzled envisioning a building sitting in the parking lot that gets used only one day a week.

Then I remembered the couplet project (completion scheduled for 2013) would move the traffic entering the downtown over the Camellia Way Bridge onto First Street, away from the present CCFM site, reducing its visibility and accessibility.

Pow! Wouldn’t the First Street municipal parking lot have better access and visibility when all that traffic shifts? That parking lot abuts Lost Park. Lost Park would love the public’s regular attention and use that being next to the farmers’ market would bring it.

Great! But would CCFM prosper in the First Street lot? Yes!

In addition to better visibility and access, the First Street lot offers other potential pluses over CCFM’s present site.

The plumbed office building in the center of that lot has a vacant unit. Maybe a costly building project isn’t necessary. The eastern exterior of this building could be a huge canvas for a CCFM sign/mural. Are there Chico artists who would love to cover this wall with a luscious organic gardening centerfold celebration of our North State’s agriculture?

The total area available within this entire lot is greater than the area presently used by CCFM, which could allow for future expansion. The demand for fresh, locally grown organic food only continues to grow.

This location would provide easy direct access to Lost Park, a segment of Bidwell Park. Direct connection to Bidwell Park, our state-recognized regional treasure, would help provide the CCFM with a lasting presence through improved and expanded relaxation and recreational opportunities, making it an even more vital nexus of community activity and fun. Meet you in Lost/Market Park.

Being nearer to Big Chico Creek, with its cool water, breezes and more shade, is literally cooler.

Lost Park is not a very attractive neighbor in its present condition. But the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission would certainly gladly spring into action to upgrade if CCFM expressed a genuine interest in using the First Street lot. Maybe there could even be a park/market restroom building.

Thinking outside the block could improve the CCFM, Lost Park, the downtown and our community by helping create more business and reducing crime.