Effort to bring more city parks to Fresno while improving others

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Park Advocates spoke out on the need for more and better parks in the city, especially in the south part of town. (KFSN)

Park Advocates spoke out on the need for more and better parks in the city, especially in the south part of town.

Bryson White, an organizer for the group Faith in Community told the council, "Time and time again this city has chosen that residents of south Fresno are not as valuable as residents of north Fresno."

Several community groups have accused the city of neglecting South Fresno. They were upset when the city refused to allow an ad on city buses illustrating the apparent discrepancy between park acreage in the north and south parts of town. City Council Member Lee Brand told the council the ad was misleading.

Brand explained, "This ad was a gross misrepresentation a fabrication of the facts."

But there is a difference between north and south. City Parks Director Emmanuel Molinaro told the Council there are almost three acres of parks per thousand people north of Shaw Ave., and just under two acres per thousand people south of Shaw. Not the nearly 5 to 1 difference the ad portrayed. The city administration has acknowledged a need to improve parks. The current goal is to fix one park a year. But former school board member Mary Curry told the council that was too slow.

Curry said, "Those young people that come before you will be as old as I am before you get the park plan completed if you only do one per year, so that is not acceptable."

City council member Sal Quintero proposed spending nearly half a million dollars over two years to draw up a plan for improving parks, while council member Esmerelda Soria proposed spending an additional $1.5 million now, to actually fix things.

Soria explained, "They are our assets and we cannot continue to let them deteriorate especially now when we have an opportunity to invest more."

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has proposed increasing the parks budget by nearly $6 million in the coming year, but Soria believes more is needed. She would tap the city's reserve for the additional funds.

The council will vote on the parks budget next week.

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