A number of Bidwell Park related decisions were made by the City Council on Tuesday night (March 3, 2020)
Text from the Chico Enterprise Record Wednesday, March 4, 2020
CHICO — By next year, people who drive and park in upper Bidwell Park will look to pay a fee. On Tuesday, the Chico City Council went forward with a recommendation from the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission and Internal Affairs Committee. The council endorsed the idea of $2 per vehicle per day fee, but also agreed to a yearly pass of about $25. There would be exemptions to the pass fee, such as to veterans, disabled people, seniors and low income.
Vehicle access was another issue decided, with Tuesday and Wednesdays to be open to vehicles to the end of the dirt park road, and to Salmon Hole on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The road will be closed to vehicles on Sunday and Monday, but is always open to pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. However, none of this will happen until the dirt portion of upper park road is repaired, plus a few more details to be worked out. The repair work should be starting by the end of the year, so access isn’t likely before next year. Much of the road in upper Bidwell Park, beyond Horseshoe Lake, has been closed to vehicles because of storm erosion, but the city has the money to pay for repair after landing a nearly $1 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board.
Councilor Scott Huber lamented that park users had to be charged, but said he didn’t see any other way to pay for road maintenance. Councilors noted that there were places of free parking, like at Five-Mile Recreation Area and Wildwood Park. The city estimates the parking fee kiosks and computer programming at $24,000. The Park Commission recommended the fees be used for ongoing maintenance and improvements of the upper park road and other upper park infrastructure and amenities.
There were questions from the council on how the kiosk program would be implemented, but city staff will be working on that aspect.
The council wasn’t ready to devote money to a new position of development director who would raise money for the park, and wanted to study that more.