16 Fresno schools to open gates as park spaces

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Fresno residents will have more green space to enjoy on the weekends with 16 school sites that are opening to the public. (KFSN)

Fresno residents will have more green space to enjoy on the weekends with 16 school sites that are opening to the public.

Martha and her 4-year-old son live down the street from Edison High School. It's one of 16 schools opening gates to allow residents to enjoy all the green space.

She thinks the plan will help keep kids off the streets.

"They're going to have stuff to do instead of wondering," she said."Doing other stuff that they're not supposed to. Staying out of trouble."

Through a partnership between the city, FUSD and Central Unified, the schools will open their track and fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and more.

Advocates have been fighting for this for a long time now.

"This will address a very high need, a problem in our area which is the need for more and better parks," Sandra Celedon-Castro with Fresno Building Healthy Communities said.

"There need to be places for folks to go, for kids and families to go, productive play for our youngest kids is critically important," Superintendent Michael Hanson said. "It doesn't always happen in every part of town because they don't have a place to be."

The city's paying for a supervisor to be on campus each day, along with a janitor to help get things back in good shape.

And it's something the mayor thinks is money well spent.

"We're spending $1.2 million to get access to 400 acres of park space," Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin said. "If we were to go out and build that ourselves, we'd be looking at $160 million."

At this point, there won't be security which is why some are concerned about the risk of vandalism, but the districts aren't worried at all.

"I know we're going to have the parks people out there, supervising on property during the times the kids are there," Superintendent Mark Sutton said.

"I think schools are still a pretty sacred place for people in the community," Hanson said. "They are centers in the community and people understand that. We expect that they'll respect them that way."

And as school's getting out, for some, this is the perfect time.
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newsfresno unified school districtparkfresnoFresno
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