Fresno Council Wants Guidelines for Events in City Parks

September 16, 2008 8:28:45 PM PDT
Whether its cage fighting or Shakespeare in the Park, the city of Fresno will soon have a policy regarding the kinds of events that will be allowed in city parks.Councilmember Brian Calhoun proposed the idea after Fresno resident Christine Arbuckle complained that mixed martial arts fighting shouldn't be allowed in city parks. Arbuckle told council, "You cannot tell me that you can have an event in which the first 51 seconds a man is rendered unconscious and strapped to a stretcher and it not be considered violence. It is violence!"

Calhoun said, "We have every right in the world to have oversight of our Parks Dept. as with everything else, in most cases we're very supportive of what goes on."

But Fresno City Manager Andy Souza warned that limiting certain events in city parks would open a Pandora's Box. "As soon as we start dabbling in "appropriate" then we get ourselves in trouble because appropriate as we've heard today, to half this audience may be inappropriate to the other half."

Fresno's Parks and Recreation Director Randy Cooper was responsible for bringing the fighting event to Woodward Park. He told the council he has no problem setting some limits. In fact, he said he already has an informal policy that would ban rap concerts with inappropriate lyrics. "I don't have a problem with a policy because we're growing and we're attracting attention and more people want to come to Fresno and use the facility we're creating, so there should be a policy before they come here."

Arbuckle says she doesn't want to ban anything or anyone in Fresno; she just wants to make sure they perform in the appropriate venue. "I think because there is a market for everything and without some criteria and parameters anything can happen."

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