CARD survey shows park safety as top concern in Chico

CARD asked people in Chico what they'd want to see a tax measure go toward, and most put homelessness and public safety ahead of new projects and programs.

Posted: May 21, 2019 2:04 PM
Updated: May 21, 2019 5:30 PM

CHICO, Calif. - "I want to feel as a female that I can get out and come to this park and walk, jog, do whatever I want and feel protected," said Nicole Nava.

Nicole Nava lives in Chico. She's an advocate for public safety. But when I asked her what she'd like the Chico Area Recreation & Park District to do to improve the parks, police didn't come to mind.

"We seem to have a lack of more fun structured things for kids to do during the day, that's something I would put on the list," Nava said.

Programs and park improvements are typically what CARD handles, and the budget's always tight.

In April, the district asked 400 people in Chico what they'd be willing to pay for in a possible tax measure to improve the parks.

Rather than new facilities, the majority of people said they just want to feel safe.

CARD already budgets for armed guards, and this May, they stepped up enforcement of park rules.

But should it be up to a parks district - and taxpayers - to uphold the law?

"Putting more money toward something that I don't know, would it protect me?" Nava said. 

"We have done a lot of work recently with CARD in the 20th Street Park area after we started to see an increase in drug use in that area. We have paid a lot of attention to that area and all parks in this town," said Chico Police Chief Mike O'Brien.

Chico Police's Summer street crimes unit starts up Thursday and they'll be focusing on park patrol. But O'Brien said he'll take whatever help CARD wants to pitch in.

"That is another tool - there's no single magic bullet that solves all these problems, it's a number of efforts that really make an impact and security guards do have a role in that," O'Brien said. 

"We need to figure out how we can collaborate and get these needs met - to me, this park is in the city of Chico and in the county of Butte, so we need to get at an answer and need to get at it quick," Nava said. 

CARD is working on what to put into a possible tax measure. 

A bond or an annual parcel tax are two options they're considering.

They'll bring their idea to the board in the coming month, and aim to have some sort of measure on the ballot for March 2020. 

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