Improving a Deteriorating Fresno Neighborhood

February 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Dozens of neighbors who live next to Fresno State spent their weekend dreaming of ways to improve the impoverished area.They're hoping today will begin changes for "El Dorado Park" in northeast Fresno which runs from Barstow to the north and Bulldog Lane to the south.

The neighborhood used to be known as "Sin City" made up of small apartment complexes for student housing. But as students left over the years the area now called "El Dorado Park" became home to a mainly low-income, immigrant community.

Larry Westerlund, Fresno City Council Member, says "El Dorado Park has the highest concentration of poverty in the city of Fresno which is saying a lot because we have plenty of areas that have plenty of poverty."

Along with poverty there is plenty of deteriorating buildings and crime. Sue Heth lives north of El Dorado Park and says the violence spills over into her neighborhood.

"I think the area's been left behind, and degenerated into kind of a mess, and now there's a possibility of making that a viable part of the city," says Heth.

In an effort to improve the area the city hired an urban planning firm from San Diego to host a workshop.

Mark Steele, Urban Planner, says "It's not just the place is dangerous- if you look at the living conditions- they're pretty deplorable in terms of mold, insects & rodents."

150 people mapped out changes they want to see including new parks and closing alleys which neighbors say are havens for crime.

Milton Turner, neighbor, says "I think if each individual put their part in and do the things they're supposed to do to make this area good, it would be just as good as any other neighborhood."

But some residents worry the reality of improvements would price them out of the area. Organizers say state and federal funding can help.

Council member Westerlund says this is still the planning phase. A similar workshop is planned for March 15.


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