Fulton Mall costs concern Fresno City Council

FRESNO, California

After losing the fight to privatize the city garbage service, Mayor Ashley Swearengin's plans for the Fulton Mall are getting increased scrutiny from the city council.

Bringing traffic back to Fresno's Downtown Fulton Mall could cost about $20 million. But advocates of the plan like Fresno attorney and Fulton Mall building owner Mick Marderosian told the city council a revived mall would give an area that's going nowhere a needed boost.

Marderosian said, "I'm there every day, I know what's happening there now will never work, will never create the environment that will cause people to want to invest in downtown."

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and her administration believe most of the money could come outside the budget. Elliot Balch is the Mayor's downtown revitalization manager.

Balch explained, "This is a complicated project, we are looking for Federal dollars, a variety of sources of other non-federal dollars."

But the city may have to cough up a couple million of its own dollars to match those funds, and city council member Lee Brand is among those with concerns. Noting the funds could come from programs to cut down weeds and maintain city property.

"This is a question of priorities," said Brand. "It's not diminishing the value of the mall its simply saying what comes first."

The city is applying for $16 million in federal funds. If the money comes through, the city council will have to decide whether the cost to the city, even if it's a small percentage of that, will be worth it.

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