The city of Fresno received $5 million from the state to improve an area in southeast Fresno that has been “left behind for decades.”
The Belmont corridor and surrounding neighborhoods – from Olive Avenue to Belmont Avenue and Blackstone Avenue to Millbrook Avenue – will receive both infrastructure and surface level improvements using money from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California grant program..
The $5 million grant is the “the largest single investment this neighborhood has seen in years,” City Council President Nelson Esparza, who represents a portion of the project area which overlaps District 3 and DIstrict 7, said at a news conference at Romain Park on Tuesday. District 3 Councilmember Miguel Arias added that the money will bring amenities to south Fresno that other parts of the city already enjoy.
Fresno was one of 105 communities across the state to receive grants from a nearly $300 million pool of Clean California grant money. According to city officials, Fresno received the maximum grant amount and will not have to match any funding.
“Freeways, as you see, that were built in the middle of these neighborhoods and adjacent here to Romain Playground, really caused many of the neighborhoods to feel forgotten and be left behind,” Mayor Jerry Dyer said while standing in front of a playground that was surrounded on two sides by freeways.
“Thoroughfares in these same neighborhoods that are primarily automobile-oriented were not pedestrian or bicycle friendly, inadequate street lighting and poor urban greening became the norm in these neighborhoods.”
According to a city news release, the money will be used to plant 95 trees, reconstruct the Belmont median, commission eight murals, improve bus stops – amounting to roughly $4.5 million of the grant, Esparza said. The remaining money will go toward expanding ongoing litter cleanup efforts, Beautify Fresno events, and Beautify Fresno clubs at Anthony, Webster, and Hidalgo elementary schools.
Dyer said that the city will ask the company it contracts with for litter removal to employ “hard-to-hire” employees, including unhoused community members.
According to Dyer and Scott Mozier, director of Public Works, the planning phase of the project is expected to begin in two months, with construction on some of the infrastructure projects starting in the fall and completed by early 2024. Meanwhile, murals and litter cleanup will likely begin in the summer.