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New plan proposed to have inmates clean up park to keep it open

Published On: Sep 17 2013 08:30:25 PM CDT
CHICO, Calif. -

A new plan has been put on the table to keep a popular playground open in Chico’s Bidwell Park.

The plan is to have non-violent convicted felons clean up the park and some parents think that it's a great idea.

It has been an uphill battle to keep Caper Acres open. There have been Facebook petitions, volunteers offering to clean the park and even ServPro, a local company in Chico, helped out. 

The sheriff's office said they believe they have found a more sustainable way to keep the park open six days a week and for the right price.

Because of dark times for Chico’s city budget, park hours had to be trimmed down from six days to three.

“I think there are other places they can cut so I’m definitely against it,” said Kari Eurotas, a mother who brings her three-year-old to the park.

Volunteers and ServPro stepped in to keep the park open for six days but ServPro said they can only do it until the beginning of October.

“We could, the sheriff's office, could probably help out by using inmate labor and our staff to help keep the park, Caper Acres, open by maintaining the restrooms, lawn pick up and those kind of things,” said Captain Andrew Duch.

Captain Duch of the Butte County Sheriff's Office came up with the idea to have non-violent felons clean up the park. These felons are under house arrest and must wear an ankle bracelet at all times.

“They are your neighbors,” said Duch. “They are on home arrest. They are wearing ankle monitors.  If you were to see these folks out and about you wouldn't be able to tell they are an inmate in Butte County Jail.”

Properly supervised, the sheriff's office would bring out five to six inmates each week to clean the park.

“Most of the work we are going to be doing when it's closed on Monday's and before it opens up at 9 in the morning,” said Duch.

“I think using the inmates is a win-win situation. It's good for the inmates to get the experience and it's great for the kids,” said Eurotas.

Steve and Kari Eurotas said they bring their 3-year-old grandson, Quinn, to Caper Acres as often as they can and they say they have no problem with felons cleaning up the park.

“I think its okay. They'll have deputies keeping an eye on them,” said Steve Eurotas.

Council Member Randall Stone said he will make a proposal about this idea on Tuesday night at the city council meeting.

We are told that the council will consider it at next month's meeting.