In the wake of the Camp Fire, Paradise has struggled economically and otherwise. It’s understandable considering virtually 80 percent of the town was wiped out in a single day, whereas rebuilding and repopulation will take decades. Tourism in the area—once a staple of the region—has really taken a hit.
One of the few remaining draws in the now-tiny foothills town—formerly the county’s second most populous municipality—is the outdoor ice rink at the Terry Ashe Recreation Center. The seasonal Paradise on Ice attraction has been set up there for the better part of a decade, enticing folks from near and far. They’d skate, they’d shop, they’d eat. It was great for the Ridge and it was great for visitors.
We were happy to see the town continue with the tradition post-fire, because never more did the businesses and townsfolk need something fun and positive than after the 2018 disaster.
That’s why we are so surprised, and, to be honest, shocked and disappointed, that the city of Chico, in conjunction with local business leaders here in the City of Trees, appears to be co-opting that seasonal activity by establishing an ice rink in downtown Chico. Tonight, the Chico City Council’s consent agenda includes approving a transfer of money to a new fund set up to pay for establishing and running the Downtown Chico Ice Skating Rink at the City Plaza and tracking its related financials.
We don’t know whose idea this was, but we know a few things that set our teeth on edge. First off, it’s not a very neighborly thing to do. In fact, it’s downright inconsiderate and selfish. It may sound hokey, but an outdoor ice rink started as a Paradise institution and we think it should remain one. Second, we’ve learned that folks from the city of Chico didn’t do the courtesy of reaching out to Paradise to ask how a rink in the valley (which would open Nov. 19, one week after the rink at Terry Ashe) would affect the Ridge or how to mitigate those impacts. And finally, we have to ask the obvious question: Is spending money on an ice rink a wise use of taxpayer dollars when the city has so many other issues to address (read: pot holes, a failed homeless encampment, a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations)?
Like we said, inconsiderate and selfish. Oh, and wasteful.
The city of Chico’s elected leaders and administrators talk a big game about helping our foothills neighbor, but the fact is that the municipal coffers here in the flatlands have grown as a result of the fire. Paradise doesn’t deserve to have yet another part of its identity stripped away, especially not from a neighboring city that claims to be supportive.