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Chico City Council Moves Forward With Plan For Ice Rink In City Plaza

Skates on a skating rink.

The Chico City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a plan to construct an ice rink in the downtown plaza. The controversial plan has already racked up nearly $100,000 in fees owed to Ice America, the group the city is collaborating with on the project.

Proponents of the rink said it would primarily serve as an economic shot-in-the-arm for downtown Chico, attracting visitors to spend money at local businesses and restaurants.

Melanie Bassett voiced her support at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

"It's an opportunity to visit and partake in all that our downtown has to offer,” she said. “So shake off the doldrums, reconnect to the community, and we'll bring a little sparkle back to our city and the community."

Those against the project criticized the large amount of water needed to create the rink while the region is in a severe drought. According to the city’s staff report, the rink would initially require 8,000 gallons of water and need an additional 50 to 100 gallons per day.

"We have a water crisis, a major one,” Jesica Giannola said during public comment. “We have, like mentioned before, wells going dry all the way to the coast. Our water is disappearing, our groundwater is disappearing."

Other critics of the project cited the city's homelessness crisis, claiming that converting the plaza to an ice rink will unfairly displace unhoused people camped there.

Opponents also cited that the Chico rink would draw people away from the ice rink in Paradise, which has been a longstanding tradition in the community. The motion passed 6-1, with Councilmember Brown being the only no vote.