The Paradise Recreation and Park District recently announced in a news release that it received payment to resolve claims resulting from the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed most of the town, other area towns, and killed at least 85 people.
A mediator determined the settlement value over several days of sessions in San Francisco in 2019. Participants in the mediation included 14 public entities with various claims from the 2015 Butte Fire, the 2017 North Bay Fires, and the 2018 Camp Fire.
A Bankruptcy Court later incorporated and confirmed the payments as part of a plan of reorganization filed by Pacific Gas & Electric in its Chapter 11 case. The settlement is part of $1 billion paid to local government entities. The District received some $38.5 million as part of the settlement, according to the news release.
The local agency claims do not affect the claims of residents, individuals, or businesses.
District Board Chairman Al McGreehan said the settlement will allow the district to survive the loss of tax and program revenue over the next two decades.
“The funds allow us to maintain our operations and services that we provide to the community and potentially expand recreational opportunities for local businesses and residents,” said District Manager Dan Efseaff.
The District plans to ensure adequate funding for operations lost from property tax revenues and lost program revenue. As rebuilding occurs, funds may be released for district projects and improvements, taking a close look at the return for the community, leveraging outside funds, and new revenue for the District, according to the news release.
“These losses may reverberate in the region for years and yet the maintenance of existing facilities, and the development of new parks and programs will attract new residents and benefit the physical, social and emotional health of returning residents.”
Since 1948, the Paradise Recreation and Park District provides recreation facilities and programs to the residents of Paradise, the Butte Creek Canyon area, and the unincorporated communities of Magalia/Paradise Pines and Concow/Yankee Hill. The District serves 50,000 people living in a 170-square mile area and manages nearly 500 acres of park land and facilities, according to the news release.
In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, the District has been aggressively pursuing grant and partnership opportunities to expand public access to land and nature. The district has secured nearly $1 million in grant funding, sponsorships and donations to support programs and infrastructure, and the district is working towards the goal of creating networked trails and other recreation amenities to help foster economic growth for the community, according to the news release.