Fresno to begin major outdoor projects

FRESNO, Calif.

An empty six acre lot near Chestnut and Highway 180 will soon be Fresno's newest park. The first one to be built in the city in several years.

"The park, it's going to be a blessing," said Varjan Kailinian. "People will come here and do events. It will be lively. At night it's like a cemetary. Dark, pitch dark."

Varjan Kailinian is thrilled for the construction to begin. He's lived in this Southeast Fresno neighborhood since 1975 and has seen many huge changes, including the Highway 180 expansion project.

Reilly Park will consist of a splash park, basketball courts and several age specific playgrounds. It will be named for the man who donated the land to the city. The land here has sat empty for years, the project nearly dropped.

"I had a feeling that we could still find the money to do this," said Fresno City Council member Clint Olivier. "We applied for a grant from the state of California."

The park build will be covered by a $3.2 million grant. But Fresno council members held off on starting work, until the city could pay for the yearly up-keep. Thursday, that $50,000 budget was approved by the council.

"The city is still struggling," said Olivier. "We're in deep financial trouble. That's not a secret."

But Olivier says the park is much-needed.

On the opposite side of the city, another major project will also begin soon. The Herndon multi-purpose trail will expand, connecting Valentine to Marks. This Measure C funded work will create a lot of extra hiking and biking space in Northwest Fresno.

Both projects are paid for with outside funds, but will be kept up with city money.

"It is important because it's not only streets, lights, this and that," said Kailinian. "This is part of life. Activity is part of life. Right now it's dead, it's going to be active soon."

Construction on the park will begin in two months, and will be finished next year.

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