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Chico Builders Offer Alternate Park Exit

The Chico Builder's Association wants to pay for and build an alternate route out of 20th Street Park to be used during the busy soccer weekends.

Posted: Aug. 23, 2018 4:19 AM
Updated: Aug. 24, 2018 10:58 AM

Chico, Calif.-- One of Chico's best-loved parks has a bad reputation for major traffic-jams during soccer season.

If you've ever been to a soccer game out at 20th Street Community Park on a Saturday, you already know.

There's only exit and entrance from the park, and you have multiple games ending in the same time period - it can take a half an hour to get the one mile to the freeway.

The park is managed by CARD, the Chico Area Recreation District.

And right now, CARD is considering an offer from the Chico Builder's Association to fund and construct another road on the opposite end of the park- one that would be open during sporting events only, and feed into the Chapman-area neighborhood.

"You look in the other direction and see this open expanse and think, 'If only I could drive that way instead of this way', and that is, ideally, what will happen," said Kate Leyden, Executive Director of the Chico Builder's Asociation. "The guys who build, they look at that and think, 'I could do that, I've got the equipment, let me help."

It's a generous offer, valued at maybe $80,000 or more, explained Chris Presley, Founder & President of Epic Homes.

But there are a few catches- some nearby residents in the Chapman-area worry that a new road will mean a surge of traffic through their streets on the weekends.

They made their concerns clear at a public meeting that CARD held earlier in the season when the idea was initally pitched.

Although, the Builder's Association says the road would reduce the problem that the area is already facing: soccer parents parking out in front of homes and walking onto the fields to avoid the traffic jams.

According to CARD, there is a lot to consider, and this September they'll be surveying the situation closely in terms of where else people are parking and how longs the lines are.

They'll also be holding another public meeting in the coming month to gage community opinions.

In addition, there are some questions around the bigger-picture impacts of re-routing traffic.

So, we talked to the city engineer about it.

"Everyone likes the concept of it, community wide, but it does impact local people, so it's always weighing the greater community benefit versus impacts on residents that live in that area," said Brendan Ottoboni, Director of Public Works-Engineering. "It's always a tough one, especially on a project like that where it make a lot of sense and from a safety aspect, accessibility and all that."

There's another hang-up regarding who would make the ultimate decision - 20th Street Community Park is in a small pocket inside of Chico that won't be officially a part of the city for two more years.

So, if CARD decides to move forward with the road sooner than that, they'd need county approval.

Ottoboni also explained how development impact fees are the only way the city can keep infrastructure updated and able to actually hold the capacity of new people brought in along with the new developments.

So, whether it's a new housing project or a new grocery store, developers pay into what their presence will demand of the roadways around them.

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