CHICO — There is only the matter of money standing in the way of the Chico Creek Nature Center coming fully under the Chico Area coffers of Recreation and Park District.

 

But it’s a six-digit amount.

At Thursday’s CARD meeting, the board agreed that taking over the Nature Center is a good move for CARD. The Nature Center’s board of directors approved dissolving the 501(c)3 under which it operates.

While the Nature Center program is a nonprofit, it has leased its center in Bidwell Park from the city.

“There is no problem with the Nature Center coming to us,” said CARD Director Bob Malowney, who serves on CARD’s Financial Committee and said the committee is happy with the idea too.

“We would like the city to meet midway on the outstanding balance, or better,” said Malowney.

There is the matter of a loan the city made to the Nature Center to help build classrooms while it was independent of CARD which the center’s board has been working to pay off in tiny chunks.

The original loan of about $185,000 had grown to more than $200,000 with unpaid interest after the Nature Center struggled over payments. Repeatedly, the center asked the city and was granted deferral of the loan payments and term changes.

According to a CARD staff report presented Thursday, there is a balance of $171,200 to the Nature Center loan from the city.

The Nature Center board has been working with the city to figure out how to proceed.

CARD General Manager Ann Willmann suggested to the board that CARD work with the city and offer to pay a portion of the outstanding loan. She did not indicate an amount or percentage.

Thursday, the CARD board agreed with Willmann’s suggestion, but was hoping for a small repayment amount, citing the numerous benefits the city has enjoyed since CARD began managing the Nature Center. and taking on its employees.

The Nature Center  would continue to operate as the Bidwell Park Information Center and would be a benefit to the city, Willmann pointed out.

CARD Director Michael Worley suggested the city could provide CARD more access to the immediate area around the Nature Center, such as Cedar Grove or the deer pen.

Willmann will be getting in touch with the city for further discussions.

Feasibility study

The CARD board accepted the final draft of the feasibility study and needs an assessment it ordered in regards to EveryBody Healthy Body.

The study indicated that more rectangular fields, such as soccer fields, are required; that more land is needed; that the build-out of DeGarmo Community Park cannot fulfill the community’s recreational needs.

EveryBody Healthy Body coordinator Jovanni Triceri told the CARD board that the organization “is hoping to find out ways to collaborate (with CARD) in the coming months.”

“We don’t think CARD should do all of this,” he said in regards to the feasibility study conclusions, adding that his nonprofit wants to make sure the CARD master plan is implemented.

“Our needs are beyond the building out of DeGarmo,” said CARD’s Malowney. “We’re looking forward for any group coming forward …”

A nonprofit, EveryBody Healthy Body has been looking at several hundred acres south of Chico for a sports and recreation complex to be built out over the next 50 years.