Citizen group wants to pump the brakes on Esplanade roundabouts

Apr 19, 2016 12:40 PM by News Staff

Two roundabouts will not be put on Chico's Esplanade without a fight.

Thousands of residents have started a petition drive, their action comes after the city council voted April 14 in favor of the project, 4-3.

While the vote is in, the controversy continues.

City council members said it's not the best but the only choice to protect residents from harm and the city from a lawsuit.

But residents won't accept roundabouts without a fight.

To some, the decision came as a shock.

Chico city council approved building two roundabouts on The Esplanade.

"In terms of the mail and phone calls and emails that we receive, 90 percent of it has been against adding roundabouts just because they ruin the historical nature of the esplanade,” said Andrew Coolidge, Chico city councilman.

Hundreds of community members are banding together to fight the decision before it's too late. They have less than a month to collect at least 4500 signatures and it could go to a special vote within the next few months.

"We’re a force to reckon with- we want them to pay and attention and think wow, we've got something to think about here," said Theresa McCoy, ‘Save the Esplanade’ activist.

McCoy is part of 'Save the Esplanade,' a group of Chico residents working to stop the roundabout project.

She said she feels like city government acted against the will of the people.

"I think that every body's pretty shocked that they didn't do what they said they were going to do in terms of listening and taking a slower approach," McCoy said.

Councilman Coolidge, who voted against the roundabouts, says he was in favor of the following his constituents.

"I think our community as a whole supports are realizes the esplanade needs that kind of update,” Coolidge said. “But when it comes to the roundabouts, I think that's just taking it too far, and doesn't address the iconical and historic nature of this boulevard."

But Councilman Randall Stone said the city has known for years that the Esplanade is not up to federal or state safety code and it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

"The fact of the matter is we have the best traffic engineers in the state working on the problem,” Stone said. “This is the solution that we've come up with. we couldn't continue to do nothing."

Residents behind the referendum say it's not that simple.

“We just want to keep this intact, it's a huge part of Chico," McCoy said.

Residents involved with 'Save the Esplanade" said they'll be more of a presence over the next few weeks. They encourage anyone against the roundabout project to sign their petition.

While Councilman Stone's vote reflects what he feels is in the best interest of the city, he said he respects the referendum process and is happy to let the people have a voice in their city's future.


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