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Steady progress on parks yields Roeding plans, new PARCS director

Fresno City Hall

Steady progress on parks yields Roeding plans, new PARCS director

“Steady progress” is the name of the game these days at Fresno’s Parks Department.

Bur for how long?

For example, Parks is planning a major upgrade to the southeast corner of Roeding Park. This area is currently green space located due east of Chaffee Zoo.

The two-part plan begins with the removal of about 17,000 square feet of turf. According to city documents, the spot will be filled with a “vibrant bird, butterfly and pollinator garden.”

The plan’s second part calls for the replacement of about 27,500 square feet of turf with “smart irrigation improvements, low-water use landscaping, and may include installation of new irrigation lines for recycled water,” according to the city.

Sounds like Roeding Park is turning into an even better regional destination.

Then there is the new bike park being planned for the Mary Ella Brown Community Center on Annadale Avenue in Southwest Fresno.

According to city documents, the bike park would cover 10,500 square feet.

“The proposed Bike Park will be an outdoor facility serving bicycle enthusiasts of all ages with the anticipated average user age of 12-14 years,” the city says. “The Bike Park will be designed to safely accommodate beginning through advanced riders.”

The project includes a contract with Fresno Building Healthy Communities, a local coalition of activists long interested in expanding recreational opportunities in disadvantaged parts of the city.

The deal calls for City Hall to contribution $200,000 toward the bike park’s construction. City officials will keep an eye on things as the bike park is built.

BHC will raise the rest of the money needed to finish the project and make sure the Southwest Fresno community gets involved during each step of the way.

City officials tell me there are no firm dates for when work begins on the Roeding and Mary Ella Brown projects.

Finally, Mayor Lee Brand and City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter recently announced that Parvin Neloms Jr. is the new Parks director. He succeeds Manuel Mollinedo.

Neloms most recently was director of parks/recreation at the city of Miami Gardens in Florida. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the leisure service industry.

Said Quan-Schecter in a written statement: “I’ve heard from our community and our staff about what our City needs in a PARCS director, and I’m pleased to report that we’ve found the perfect person for the job. Parvin is an excellent leaders and will be an immediate contributor to our team.”

The big question at the Parks Department under the Brand/Quan-Schecter/Neloms team is whether “steady progress” will continue to reign. The latest parks master plan is circulating throughout Fresno. It will attract much public comment before heading back to the City Council for a final decision.

Fresno has lots of green space, recreational and parks maintenance needs. The new master plan describes a tempting future in which all problems are resolved. All it will take is $100 million-plus.

Well-meaning people will be in a hurry to get it all done at once. Meanwhile, we’ve got only another 20 years to pay off the bond debt on Fresno’s last attempt to fix its parks system in the wink of an eye.

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver and advisor to The Collegian, the student newspaper of Fresno State.

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