Opponents of Fulton Mall plan prepare legal challenge

FRESNO, Calif.

The public would get a much different look of the Fulton Mall if it is opened up to traffic. Fresno city officials believe the change would help revitalize downtown. But critics said artwork like Renoir's "Washerwoman" need space to be enjoyed. Fresno sculptor Stan Bitters designed a fountain for the mall when it opened in 1964.

"They've kept pools dry for two years," said Bitters. "My fountain 'Dancing Waters' hasn't worked for two years. We're on this mission and we're trying to raise some money to fulfill this interest."

The group 1000 Friends of Fresno is raising money on crowdrise.com to mount a legal challenge. They said the city's general plan has been violated and they've raised over $18,000.

"The ultimate goal that will take us for a good year is $50,000. This is to retain an attorney to fight the city on legal issues," Bitters explained.

Patrick Farris of Fresno is among those who would rather keep the pedestrian mall.

"Kind of like right now. It's like calm and serene. Everybody's family-oriented and sticking together. It's actually a cool breeze. Everybody is out and about," said Farris.

But the city council last month approved the plan to open the Fulton Mall to traffic. The city has secured $20 million in federal and state funding.

Still, the 1000 Friends of Fresno promise a legal battle unless their funds, like the mall fountains, run dry.

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