City officials say Granite Park's improper insurance poses pricey liability for taxpayers

Alyssa Flores Image
Thursday, April 7, 2022
City officials: Granite Park's improper insurance poses liability
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Two Fresno City councilmembers are drawing attention to a park that could pose a liability for city taxpayers and cost them tens of millions of dollars.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Officials are calling attention to Granite Park's current insurance policy, which doesn't cover the city of Fresno--a violation of the park's lease that makes the city liable for lawsuits. The central Fresno park is owned by the city and is host to games, children's sports and special events that include alcohol.

"The city could be sued for tens of millions of dollars with no protection," said Bredefeld.

Councilmembers Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi say inadequate insurance is one of the ways that Terance Frazier, president of Central Valley Community Sports Foundation which runs Granite Park, is violating the lease agreement with the city. They say he has also defaulted on utility bills. Frazier is the fiance of councilmember Esmeralda Soria. Though she's recused herself from Granite Park related matters, Bredefeld and Karbassi claim that the relationship is the reason City Council hasn't taken action against Frazier.

"They have never let somebody not have insurance to protect the taxpayer. Never," Bredefeld said. "Never. Only here. I wonder why?"

Mayor Jerry Dyer and City Manager Georgeanne White say Frazier switched insurance policies a year ago. For months, the City Attorney has made sure Frazier was aware the current policy does not cover the city, which is required in the Granite Park lease agreement.

"There are baseball bats, balls, small children, liquor," White said. "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. And having the city exposed to this type of liability keeps me up at night."

Dyer says only the City Council has the ability to evict a tenant from city property.

"If that authority did rest with my administration, that action would have already been taken," Dyer said. "We have to, as a city, recognize that this deal hasn't been working very well."

Frazier confirmed with Action News that he became aware that the insurance policy is inadequate months ago.

"What I have been trying to do is find someone who will give me the insurance that the city wants, so it's not like I am not trying," he said.

The park has fallen behind on over $100,000 in utility payments, much of which the city has stepped in and covered. Frazier says that's because the $150,000 the city contributes to run the park is not enough funding.

Frazier sued Fresno city officials in 2020 for alleged racist treatment after Granite Park was audited, which he says damaged his reputation and cost him millions.

"I have no idea why they are coming after us so hard other than political motivation," he said.

There were multiple requests to add the Granite Park insurance issue to Thursday's closed session City Council meeting agenda. City Council President Nelson Esparza says those requests were not received before the agenda was finalized and that his office is still trying to determine if a special meeting to address the matter is necessary.