Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria announces a new park near Fresno High School on Tuesday. Photos by Breanna Hardy
Written by Gabriel Dillard
After years of advocacy and community investment, the Fresno High School neighborhood may soon gain a “pocket park.”
Fresno Councilmember Esmeralda Soria said this new park is the result of her yearslong advocacy for greater green space access in District 1.
The $3 million project was designed by Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group and will go out to bid for construction in December. The park is planned for completion in spring 2023.
The nearest park is Quigley Park, about three miles from the future park off Van Ness Avenue. The new park has yet to be named.
“This is an area where it’s a park desert, essentially,” Soria said.
Jane Najera, who has a young daughter, says they already spend time at the green space and would benefit from having a playground and other amenities. It’s important to interact with other families, she said.
Community members have already created makeshift benches to enjoy food from nearby businesses including Ampersand, Quesadilla Gorilla, Kuppa Joy and MOTO Delicatessen and Bodega.
“Over the last eight years we’ve seen, really, the revitalization of this corridor with new businesses,” Soria said. “We’re just very excited that this brand new green space will complement what is happening here in this neighborhood.”
Since her work began, voters approved Measure P, which ensures Fresno’s neighborhoods get the funding for parks they need, she said.
Public Works Director Scott Mozier said that this Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting is crucial to the park development. The agenda includes a resolution of intent to vacate a portion of the northeast corner of Van Ness and Weldon Avenues in order to craft the nearly three-quarter-acre park.
The free right turn onto Van Ness Avenue will be taken out and eventually replaced with grass to join the current green space from the lot that is currently occupied by Out of the Blue Thrift Store. The thrift store is slated to be purchased by the City of Fresno to complete the park project.
This summer, sidewalks will be put in along the perimeter, and a decades-old underground gas tank will be removed where there used to be a gas station.
Amenities include drinking fountains, bocce ball courts, playground and exercise stations. The city will also plant around 12 trees. This is one of the first community-approved Measure P projects for the city to deliver.
“We’re just completing the work that the community has already demonstrated that we need,” Soria said.