Fresno State students help revive campus neighborhood

FRESNO, Calif.

"I see the potential I think the area is good if you go one block away. It's an A class neighborhood. We are very close to it," said Verdi. "I think by spending a little bit of money we can make this neighborhood good. I think the place has potential."

Local resident Marco Martinez has seen the whole street improve, thanks in part to the efforts of Fresno State students. "Things have changed quite a bit actually from when we moved in. It's been calm ever since the students association got involved."

Unfortunately, it was a series of crimes that prompted students to mobilize. The president of the Associated Students Inc. at Fresno State, Selena Farnesi told Action News: "Really what happened is over the summer there were a lot of violent incidents including shootings at fraternities, and that really sparked students to say enough is enough we're taking back our community."

Farnesi and Loren Smoot an AmeriCorps worker helping the students went before the Fresno City Council to talk about the improvements, and the remaining problems. Farnesi told the council members: "There are still huge challenges and there will continue to be huge challenges in that area."

One big issue is street lighting. Students complain the streetlights are too far apart, and leave the streets dark at night. Fraternity Senate member Thomas Daley told Action News: "Lighting is incredibly important because crime happens when there is no light."

It is a problem council member Larry Westerlund is aware of. "It's been something I've been working on for a number of years without any success."

Westerlund says a dispute between the city and the Fresno State administration over costs has stalled improvements. The students are hoping the school and the city will come together, with the same positive attitude they've shown to making things better.

Daley said: "I think our goal is to make students feel safe and have a good Fresno State experience as well as the neighbors in the Eldorado Park neighborhood can take their kids to school and feel safe in a crime free. I think that's the ultimate goal to better people's lives."

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