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County/private partnership could lead to Chester Town Plaza

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

 

An idyllic vision emerges as proponents of a Chester Town Plaza share their ideas to turn the existing Chester Park into a year-round venue for Almanor Basin residents and tourists.

Two of those individuals — Susan Bryner and Chelssa Outland — shared those plans with the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 16. Bryner is the current president of the local Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of the Almanor Foundation, and Outland is the chamber treasurer.

Because Chester Park is owned by Plumas County, proponents of the plaza have been working with Tracey Ferguson, the county’s planning director. She presented a report to the board which discussed a proposed public/private partnership to make the plaza a reality.

Ferguson and Bryner have been working on the idea since January of 2020 along with many other interested parties, including Supervisor Sherrie Thrall.

“As far as the planning department sees it, the uses are consistent with the zoning,” Ferguson told the supervisors. “The county owns the parcel and the Almanor Foundation wants to do improvements. Do we have a mechanism? Is it possible? Yes.”

She said details needed to be ironed out and she asked the supervisors to direct staff and county counsel to work out the agreement. She also asked that one or two board members participate. Later in the meeting, the board decided that Thrall and Board Chairman Kevin Goss would serve on the committee.

The vision

Bryner said that the vision for the Town plaza is to provide planned activities year round. “We hope to get things happening 250 days per year,” she said.

Bryner said that Town plazas become economic development engines, and stimulate business both existing and new.

Additionally, Bryner said that the community is in need of recreation and cultural activities, which a town plaza will create.

Bryner said that Chester Park is an ideal site because it is located in the middle of the Chester off of Main Street. She said that the existing amenities such as the basketball courts, stage (bandshell), baseball field, concession stand, and restrooms, wouldn’t be eliminated though some facilities may need to be moved. No current service would be taken away, Bryner said — the goal is to improve or expand.

Some of the new amenities discussed are an ice-skating rink, a covered structure for winter activities and fountains for children to run through during the summer.

Bryner said that there are funds available for the project, and the Almanor Foundation would be the fundraising entity, seeking grants and donations.

Supervisor Greg Hagwood said that he thinks it’s “the county’s good fortune” that there are individuals willing to pursue this endeavor. “The county singlehandedly is in no position to make this happen,” he said.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said she hopes the board will support the project.

The board agreed and Thrall and Goss will represent the board of supervisors during the project discussions.

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