Downtown ice rink raises some hackles – really?!

10 Nov

This letter appeared in the Chico Enterprise Record yesterday (11/9/21)

“Today the weather was beautiful, and I went downtown to shop. I was stopped short by the sight of an ugly cyclone fence around my Plaza Park. It blocked off 40 parking spaces. It stopped me from parking where I usually do. I found a parking spot a block away.  That fence was such a depressing sight that I walked back to talk to a courteous young woman who was cleaning litter that had blown against the fence. She answered my questions to the best of her ability; her job title is Ambassador and she works for an association of downtown property owners. Not the city, not the chamber.

She said the public would be kept out for about three weeks while the contractors prepared for the ice rink. I asked if the fence would be taken down then, but she answered that the fence would remain until the rink shut down in January. I asked if the general public (except for those paying to skate) was going to be shut out of our park for two and a half months. She said she believed that once construction was finished, a corner of the fence would be opened slightly so we could squeeze in and sit on the grass.

Really?! Really?!

You are going to take away 40 prime parking spaces during the Christmas shopping season? And why is our downtown public restroom blocked off? Is that even legal?”

Catherine Riley, Chico

I don’t know if any of this is true so looked at the city website, had to search for it, but found this blurb.

Chico Plaza Ice Rink – City of Chico

Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza

Coming this November!

Open from November 19, 2021 through January 9, 2022, the Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza will feature ice skating sessions, private party events, special events, and more! This joint effort with the Downtown Chico Business Association will be adjacent to our City Hall and located in an area of over 425 diverse businesses.

I’ve also seen pictures of ice rinks in other towns, like Sacramento, and yeah, the public is excluded. What I saw was a more attractive fence, but it was a fence that restricted the public from a public park.

Blocking the parking spaces is a shocker, Downtown parking has always been a hot-button issue. But we’ve seen recent actions – such as expansions of restaurants onto sidewalks, and the bike-lane experiment that blocked parking spaces – that show how little consideration city staffers have for the general public. City employees and council members seem to think Downtown Chico is their own private playground.

I’ll admit though, I never go Downtown anymore. What’s there to buy Downtown? Corporate Sacramento-owned restaurants? Over-priced thrift stores? Doo-dads? Evening wear for college girls? Who can afford to shop at Colliers anymore? All of whom raised their prices to cover the Downtown Business Association fees and other expenses “special” to operating Downtown.

Let me ask you – how “special” do you feel dodging human excrement, panhandlers, and car break-ins as you are paying extra to shop Downtown?

But don’t forget – your money goes into this thing. Ask Kasey Reynolds how much she expects to profit, with a business a block away from this boondoggle. Ask if her business will sponsor the rink, and if she will be allowed to put a concession stand there.

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