Some worry high-speed rail will put an end to Fresno's Chinese New Year celebration

Sunday, March 8, 2015
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Some business owners are worried the high-speed rail could make this the last time for the Chinese New Year celebration in Downtown Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Chinese New Year celebration brought hundreds of people to the historic Chinatown District on Saturday afternoon. Now, some business owners are worried the high-speed rail could make this the last time for this unique event in Downtown Fresno.

Lynn Ikeda's family has owned Kogetsu-Do Confectionary for 100 years. But after a century of serving the Central Valley, Ikeda believes high-speed rail construction could force the closure of her small shop.

"Deep down inside I hope it doesn't go through. I hope the high-speed rail doesn't follow through at all," said Ikeda.

The 15th Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown Saturday brought many people to her storefront. But Chinatown revitalization leaders say it could be the last time they hold this annual party.

"A lot of these businesses will not be able to survive eight years of construction, with major pathways being blocked off, roads being torn up," said Jeremy Brownstein with Chinatown Revitalization Inc.

The underground tunnel tours could also be shut down due to construction, which funds the Chinatown New Year celebration. But Diana Gomez, the Central Valley regional director for the high-speed rail, says they've been working hard to make sure history in the area is preserved.

"We have been working with the city in determining if any of the historical buildings are going to be impacted, and so far we aren't impacting the historical buildings," said Gomez.

Not everyone is convinced the current plans for high-speed rail ensures the protection of the 75 businesses in the Chinatown area.

"The unfortunate thing is no one exactly knows because the plans of high-speed rail are not set in stone; they're always changing," said Brownstein.

High-speed rail supporters are saying, however, hundreds of jobs have been created for the construction project and thousands more are on the way.