Ten options were up for consideration following a weeklong series of workshops last month and a about 1,000 public comments. Though the ultimate decision is still more than a year away, the most popular options include opening the mall up to traffic.
While many want history preserved, finding agreement on what preservation means is more difficult. "Looking at preservation and keeping some of the history is very important. Once we lose it, we can't get it back," said committee member Roger Palamino.
Commission member Brent Weiner said Fulton Street was most vibrant from 1920 through 1950, before it became a pedestrian mall. "Why do we need to preserve something that is there currently and that has basically economically failed? Every Pop Laval picture when you walk into a downtown Fresno lobby shows Fulton Street in its vibrancy ... Tonight, I'm going to be casting my vote not for what we have now, but what we had back then when Fulton was vibrant," said Weiner.
The panel is recommending three options for the city to study further. One includes restoring the mall, keeping it closed to vehicles. The other two, which received the highest number of votes, include opening most or the entire mall up to traffic. Downtown and Community Revitalization Director Craig Scharton says whatever the city council decides, the area will be pedestrian friendly. "Even the one that removed all of the mall, still has wide sidewalks, about 20 feet wider than any downtown people have probably experienced," said Scharton.
The city council will have the final decision. A final vote isn't expected until the spring of 2012.