parks

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Many communities in the Central Valley struggle to provide enough green space and parks. In Hanford, residents have tried to figure out what to do with an 18-acre patch of dirt next to a popular city park. A vote by the city council tonight could begin the process of making a final decision about its future. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess reports the scrap of land is the source of a surprising amount of controversy.

At Hidden Valley Park in Hanford, families, children, dogs and ducks enjoy a picture perfect afternoon.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The last time the city of Fresno re-examined its public parks master plan, Ronald Reagan was president. According to some people, it shows. One recent analysis Fresno ranks 97th of out 100 cities in terms of access to public parks. Now, after much community complaint, work is underway to bring city parks into the 21st century. Last week, residents gathered at Fresno High School to share their vision in crafting a new plan for the city’s parks.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new national ranking of American cities shows Fresno is no longer in last place when it comes to providing access to public green space. 

The City of Fresno moved up one spot from dead last to second to last in a ranking of the 100 largest US cities when it comes to public access to parks. Adrian Benepe is Senior Vice President with the group behind the ranking, The Trust For Public Land. 

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin yesterday cut the ribbon for a new park in southeast Fresno. And this isn’t just any park.

Fresno skateboarders have a new skate park to play in. It’s located behind Romain Park near the junction of routes 41 and 180. And it’s unlike any other skate park in Fresno: it was designed by skateboarders. Hundreds of teenagers and young adults took part in the planning process—including Manuel Martinez.

City of Fresno

The City of Fresno has reached an agreement with two local school districts to keep a handful of campuses open on weekends for community recreation.

The deal which was announced Monday involves both the Fresno Unified and Central Unified school districts.

The agreement aims to open seven high school campuses by March, with an additional seven to open by May. The campus grounds will be open between 9am and 5pm on weekends.

Fresno Unified School Board President Luis Chavez says the effort is a partnership between the districts and the city. 

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
© JAMES F. SCOTT/MOSAICOFPLACE

President Obama has named a new national monument in Northern California. The 330,000 acre Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is on federal land around Lake Berryessa north of the San Francisco Bay Area. The monument is known for its unique geology and wildlife.

The U.S. Forest Service says the area gives unique insights into plate tectonics:

Commentary: Does Fresno's Parks Problem Make Inequality Worse?

Jul 7, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Every year, The Trust for Public Land analyzes the 75 largest U.S. cities and gives them a score based on how well they are meeting the need for parks. This year, the city of Fresno, California, tied for last place.

KVPR/Jeffrey Hess

A free public science education center is officially open in Northwest Fresno. The Highway City Science Center is moving into a community center that has been closed for 5 years since deep Recession era budget cuts.

The center is moving into one of the most underserved areas of Fresno off highway 99 in an area known as Highway City.

It will host science programing for children and adults, such as a fully assembled whale skeleton and electrical workshop.

Manuel Hernandez with the Fresno Parks Department says the center is a huge boost to the area.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For years, the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has worked to preserve the river bottom from development between Friant Dam and Highway 99. While the parkway, and its partner agency, the San Joaquin River Conservancy have amassed thousands of acres of land along the river, much of that land isn't regularly open to the public. 

Ezra David Romero

After the City of Fresno rejected a proposed bus ad about the lack of parks in South Fresno last week, the controversy over the issue  has only grown. The ad from the group Building Healthy Communities cited city data that shows North Fresno residents have over four times the amount of park space per capita as those who live south of Shaw Avenue. 

Google Maps

A local organization is asking the City of Fresno to build a new park for residents in an older part of town.

Jose Leon-Barazza with the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association will ask the city council on Thursday to spend $200,000 to do preliminary work to turn a largely vacant 48-acre parcel on South Peach Avenue into a park and soccer fields.

Building Healthy Communities

An ad that a local non-profit group wants to run on city buses is the center of controversy, after Fresno officials say it’s too political. As FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the group wants more parkland in older parts of town.

A new national ranking of American cities shows Fresno is making progress in providing access to public parks and green space.

However, the gains are limited. The city moved from last place in 2014 to tied for last this year.

Abby Martin with the Trust for Public land, which releases a yearly ranking of 75 US cities, says several new parks set to open this year helped Fresno’s score.

“Out of 100 points, this year Fresno scored 31. As opposed to last year where Fresno scored 26 points,” Martin said.

Independent Commission Calls For Big Changes In State Parks Department

Jan 31, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

An independent commission is calling for the “fundamental transformation” of California’s archaic State Parks system. That includes the creation of an outside organization to help raise money and coordinate volunteers. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Brown's Budget Gives State Parks System One Year To Turn Around

Jan 21, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s state parks system has faced a rough few years: Deep cuts during the recession, and a financial scandal that rocked the department. Now, a state commission is just days away from releasing a report that demands the department modernize itself – and Governor Jerry Brown’s new budget proposes only enough money to buy the parks system a year to turn itself around. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

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