Written by The Business Journal Staff
Located in Fresno’s Roeding Park across from the Chaffee Zoo, the sister parks of Storyland and Playland have been the focus of intense fundraising campaigns for the past year after the previous leadership announced the venues were closing due to lack of revenue.
While a cash infusion of $500,000 helped reopen Storyland in September, Playland remains closed and needs several major renovations and updates before the public can be welcomed back, said Bruce Batti, vice chair of Storyland Playland’s new board.
Batti announced upcoming plans for the children’s amusement park as well as a $150,000 matching gift from the Daniel R. Martin Foundation while flanked by corporate and community sponsors during the event today.
Among the planned projects is a new entrance and walkway, which will be paid for by the Rotary Club of Fresno. The $100,000 renovation will include an elaborate facade design donated by local firm Taylor Group Architects, said club president Hal Bolen.
“March 16, 2016 will be the 100th anniversary for the Fresno Rotary,” he said. “We were here at the beginning for the parks and it’s a fitting gift to the community that we step up again.”
The new entryway will be named Rotary Centennial Plaza and open sometime in April.
Lithia Subaru of Fresno also pledged its support, and general manager Frank Perez presented a check for $65,000. The money is the first installment of a $100,000 pledge by the dealership to help reopen Playland and is the result of several promotions and customer donation incentives.
“We have six stores here in the Valley and we felt like it was our duty to give back to the community here,” Perez said. “Kids can enjoy it from all income levels and we’re excited to be part of the community effort to revitalize these parks.”
Leadership Fresno has also pledged to support the revitalization efforts, and the organization’s current class announced plans to update the park’s train station.
“We will help rebuild it and restore this gem of Fresno,” said Blair Smittcamp, president of Class 32.
The new station will feature interactive exhibits aligned with the STEAM initiative (science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics), including a morse code message system.
Local themed-environment design/build firm Monster City Studios will lead the station project, along with several other planned features at Playland.
Community contributions are still needed before the park’s reopening date in April however, and Storyland Playland chair Scott Miller announced a $300,000 fundraising campaign. The board is hoping to raise $150,000 from corporate sponsors, and $150,000 from private donors throughout the Valley.
The funds will help support several more park projects, including the installation of an ADA-friendly teacup ride and life-like dinosaur statues for the planned “Dinosaur Island” exhibit on Lake Washington.