Mayor Swearengin unveils Fresno Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan

FRESNO, Calif.

The plan is a blueprint of how Fresno should look in the next 25-years. It includes goals and recommendations related to not only sprucing up Downtown Fresno, but also, some of the nearby poorer neighborhoods.

Nearly 400 Fresno residents piled into Downtown's Valdez Hall Tuesday. Many of them live on the south side of town which, some say, is an area that is often neglected.

"We need more parks; we need to have our roads maintained."

James Lett the III has resided in Southwest Fresno for the past 17 years. He feels in order for city leaders to accomplish their goal of revitalizing Downtown, they must first focus on its outskirts. "We've got too many empty buildings downtown, and our neighborhood homes that are dilapidated and we need to bring everything up," said Lett.

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin agrees. After taking office in January of 2009, she pledged to revamp the city's urban heart. Last month, she unveiled the Downtown neighborhood's community plan. It covers nearly 11 square miles, which make up pre-World War II Fresno.

"It really starts with our focus on the downtown area and recognizing that you can't have a vibrant economically thriving Downtown area if the neighborhoods surrounding it don't come back to life," said Swearengin.

After reviewing the mayor's plan, residents in those neighborhoods took part in surveys revealing their biggest concerns. Among them, a need for street repairs and extra police. Stephanie Nava has two younger siblings and says she'd like to see more recreational opportunities. "Usually, every day I see some kids from the neighborhood doing bad things they're not supposed to."

While many of the suggested improvements are years in the making, some hope their voices do not go unheard.

In the upcoming weeks, city officials will hold public meetings in order for people to review the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan. There is one Wednesday at Edison High School at 5:30.

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