Marjaree Mason Center sets its sights on new northwest Fresno location

The new building the center wants to move to is the old Milan Institute on Bullard.

Alyssa Flores Image
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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As domestic violence continues to plague the Valley, the Marjaree Mason Center is looking to move to a new building where it can serve more families.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As domestic violence continues to plague people in the Central Valley, the Marjaree Mason Center has served as a safe haven for men and women who escape abuse.

But the rise in cases means a rise in demand for their services.

The center is looking to move to a new location where it can expand to serve even more families.

You're probably familiar with the place it is trying to purchase.

It's the old Milan Institute on Bullard in northwest Fresno.

Right now, zoning doesn't allow for the Marjaree Mason Center to move in. Current zoning is limited to a school or college using the property.

But it's hoping the city will vote to change that.

The building on Bullard is appealing because it's centrally located, easily accessible and allows for expansion.

And that's exactly what the Marjaree Mason Center hopes to do - add on emergency safe housing to the property, taking them from a capacity of 40 families currently to 60 families.

The center held a meeting with community members to answer questions and concerns about potentially taking over at the new building.

Initially, neighbors said they were wary of Marjaree Mason Center moving in.

"We want to make sure that whoever goes in there, our property values are maintained and increase and everybody is safe," said neighbor Rodeny Delara.

Community members say ultimately, their concerns and questions were met with answers at a meeting with Marjaree Mason.

"About the location, the walls, the structure, the lighting, the land use regulations, security," said neighbor Josie Almeida.

Zoning changes were discussed at a planning commission meeting Wednesday. Multiple people spoke in favor of the domestic violence resource center moving into the property but were wary of a bait-and-switch.

"If Marjaree Mason Center did not actually move in, it would really open the doors to other businesses that we weren't really too fond of," said Almeida.

During public comment, some were concerned that would allow for a different type of organization to move in - like a substance abuse center. Ultimately, the planning commission voted to change zoning to allow a social services facility or emergency shelter.

Marjaree Mason Executive Director Nicole Linder says the center is now in escrow for the property. Wednesday's green light moves them one step closer to expanding services.

"Counseling and classes and case management and access to longer housing," said Linder.

Once the property is approved and acquired, the new facility would offer bigger rooms complete with a private bathroom for each family.

"We have to find overflow housing anytime our emergency shelter beds are full, which is most of the time," said Linder.

The planning commission will now recommend to the city council to change zoning.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, or you know someone who is, there is help available 24/7. In Fresno County, call the Marjaree Mason Center at (559) 233-4357. In all other locations, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.