June 6, 2023 — Fresno Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission

Documented by  Esteban Solis Loya

Here’s what you need to know

  • Pickleball Courts at Vinland and Rotary East parks have already been approved for restoration by the City Council in the FY 2023 city budget, but the Fresno Parks, Recreation, and Arts Commission is recommending they be redesigned as multi-use courts for various sports instead.
  • Pickleball courts in the design phase at Roeding Park have been challenged by the Commission – the three northernmost courts will be redesigned as multi-use courts for various sports.

Follow-up questions

  • How are park rangers being hired, and what are their ties to the Fresno Police Department?
  • Will trash cans be installed along city trails? Will there be funding to provide trash cans and trash pickup along trails?

The Scene

The Fresno Parks, Recreation, and Arts Commission meeting was held on June 6, 2023. The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and was adjourned at 7:21 p.m. The meeting was made available to the public to live stream and to provide public comments via Zoom.  

Names of Officials and Attendance

  • Chair Kimberly McCoy: Present
  • Vice Chair Jon Dohlin: Absent
  • Commissioner Dr. Francine Oputa: Present
  • Commissioner Scott Miller: Present
  • Commissioner Mona Myandoro Cummings: Present
  • Commissioner Harman Singh: Present
  • Commissioner Jose Leon Barraza: Present
  • Commissioner Kelly Kucharski: Absent

The Commission unanimously approved the meeting agenda with no changes.

This special meeting requires no approval of minutes.

General Public Participation 

  • No speakers online via Zoom.
  • No in-person comments.

Actions/Discussions/Public comment

  • Measure P / PARCS Budget
    • Parks Director Aaron Aguirre presented the FY 2024 PARCS budget that was broken down into five expenditure categories:
      • Expenditure Category 1
        • Total revenue: $146,800 – comprises the existing PARCS budget
      • Expenditure Category 2
        • Total revenueL $20,417,900 – comprises the new parks program
      • Expenditure Category 3
        • Total revenue: $4.74 million – comprises the Youth and Senior Program that exists solely in the PARCS Department
      • Expenditure Category 4
        • Total revenue: $15.49 million – funds go to local artists via the Arts and Culture Program
      • Expenditure Category 5
        • Total revenue: $10.26 million – comprises the Safe Walking and and Biking Trails, Street Beautification and Litter Removal, and San Joaquin River Parkway Programs
        • FY 2024 proposed funding:
          • Personnel: $455,200
            • Salaries and benefits for 2 Beautify Fresno crews composed of two laborers, two utility lead workers and two senior sanitation operators
          • Landfill tipping fees: $465,700
            • Charged by the tonnage
          • Public relations and information: $100,000
            • Community outreach materials and marketing
          • Fleet services: $69,400
            • Maintenance and fuel charges for vehicles
          • Materials and supplies: $81,500
            • Tools, equipment and parts, cleaning and janitorial supplies
          • Miscellaneous: $36,400
          • Total Measure P funding request: $1.2 million
        • *Beautify Fresno is primarily funded by the general fund, with other financing provided by Measure P, Solid Waste Division Operation fees and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money from the federal government.*
    • Mark Standriff, director of Beautify Fresno, gave a presentation on the Public Utilities and Beautify Fresno portion of the presentation:
      • Through Measure P, 137 community-based cleanup and beautification events have taken place.
        • 90% of events took place south of Shaw Avenue with one third taking place within District 3.
        • 8,500 individual volunteers (1,900 new) and 130 groups have participated in cleanup events.
          • Special beautification and cleanup events serve Hispanic, Hmong and Punjabi communities.
        • Over 116,000 pounds of trash and 150,000 square feet of graffiti have been cleaned so far.
        • Beautify Fresno’s Million Pound Challenge has resulted in over 2 million pounds of trash being removed, with the 1 million pound goal being met by Memorial Day.
        • Six neighborhood blitzes have taken place, where intensive infrastructure repairs and litter abatement are addressed.
        • District 7 pilot program reduced FresGO illegal dumping requests by 30%
        • Established 17 Beautify Fresno Clubs for students K-12, public and private representing every school district in the city.
          • Projects included campus cleanups, tree planting, murals and a fashion show using recycled materials.
        • Development of online environmental education curriculum through a grant from AT&T
          • Chair McCoy: What will marketing money in the budget be used for?
          • Standriff: TV has been the most successful marketing medium, so much of the funding will go to TV ads. Marketing will also use Facebook and Google Ads and city bus wraps. Keeping the program visible keeps the program as “top of mind” for residents and for the city. The goal of the PARCS Department is to change behavior via public relations and marketing plans to show the city cares and wants to invest in neighborhoods. The next phase will consist of mural programs.
          • McCoy: Has there been any consideration to do flyers/mailers for residents in neighborhoods? Residents, many who are working parents who work multiple jobs or don’t use social media, have expressed that flyers would be helpful.
          • Standriff: There are partnerships with individual schools where PARCS create flyers and schools distribute them. There is currently not enough person power to distribute flyers.
          • McCoy suggested using the K-12 student clubs to get flyers out to residents and possibly offer a small stipend or volunteer hours for seniors, if possible.
          • Barraza: How successful have you been in planting new trees within the jurisdiction of the parks program? One concern is that once an area is cleaned, trash is back the next day due to homeless encampment activity.
          • Standriff: PARCS works with organizations in areas where PARCS is not directly facilitating projects. For example, a partnership with Tree Fresno came about because PARCS is not directly related to tree planting.
          • The PARCS dept already has maintenance crews that clean jurisdictions. The focus on busy days for parks (Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. and graduation season) is on both parks and the entire surrounding neighborhoods. For example, the focus on Lafayette Park cleanups is on small items like bottle caps that family and child volunteers can do, while the larger cleanup is focused on the surrounding neighborhood.
          • A Litter study by Keep America Beautiful in 2020 revealed that 85% of litter is intentional, where individuals make conscious decisions to litter.
          • Although PARCS doesn’t deal directly with Fresno’s homelessness issue, the department works with code enforcement and other agencies who can enforce local policy and law.
        • Dr. Oputa: Is the total marketing budget of $500,000 allocated to Measure P?
          • Standriff: The marketing budget is 11.25% of Measure P funds. In 2021, there was essentially no budget to work with. There was and is a need to fund this program via the general fund and with small pots from Solid Waste Department fees and from ARPA.
          • McCoy: Per your mention of two cleanup events along Parkway Drive, one of many areas in the city that are unpleasant to look at and stay dirty, how often are these spots hit with cleanup events?
          • Standriff: Most neighborhoods are hit with cleanup events two to three times.
          • McCoy: Suggestion to hit areas with high concentrations of homeless populations more often. Have there been considerations to hand out fines to property owners who neglect their properties?
          • Standriff: PARCS work in partnership with Code Enforcement who have the authority to enforce fines.
          • McCoy: How does the fine system work?
          • Standriff: Usually, a citation is issued after about a two-week period to clean the property. After that, fines are issued and infractions can increase with liens against the properties and possible receivership of properties.
          • Chair: Is there a dollar amount of the first fine?
          • Standriff: The dollar amount should be in the municipal fee code.
          • Chair: If we raise the fines, it might put more pressure on property owners to act.
          • Commissioner Singh: Are there any preventative measures like trash can installations? Most city trails don’t have trash cans and trash accumulates.
          • Standriff: That really depends on the walkability factor of the city and neighborhoods. Walkable cities have in their budgets employees who can pick up trash. For example, Manhattan is a very walkable city and allocated funding for crews to pick trash up almost hourly, whereas Los Angeles is a sprawling, car-dependent city and doesn’t allocate the same funding. Fresno is somewhere in the middle when it comes to trash can availability for large American cities, but Fresno isn;’t very walkable.
      • Public Works Director Scott Mozier presented information on the 11.25% allocation within Expenditure Category 5:
        • 47% of Expenditure Category 5 revenue is dedicated to acquisition, development, improvement, restoration, operations, maintenance or rehabilitation projects including:
          • Bike and pedestrian trail development
          • Urban greening and tree planting
          • Planning, designing, engineering and permitting activities associated with the above improvements
        • Capital Improvement projects within Expenditure Category 5:
          • The Southwest Fresno Green Trails project along with the ongoing Church Road alignment project
            • Plans are nearly complete and the projects will be ready for construction in Fresno’s FY 2024 to meet Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant deadlines, which can be found on the Transform Fresno website. Measure P would enable these projects to meet TCC deadlines with an infusion of $2.4 million.
            • Barstow Avenue Class IV Bike Lanes that run from Blackstone Avenue to Fresno Street)
              • A construction package has been awarded for summer 2023 in the amount of $446,700
            • Active Transportation Plan (ATP) Trail & Urban Greening Projects
              • Irrigation and tree planting along major trails identified in the ATP would amount to $100,000
            • San Joaquin River Parkway Operations & Deferred Maintenance Projects
              • A consultant assessment is due to wrap up soon for identification and prioritization of deferred maintenance, needs, and opportunities along the San Joaquin River Parkway for a total amount of $2.5 million.
            • Major Street Beautification
              • This is a carryover project from the original $1.2 million included in the adopted FY 2023 budget. Projects include medium island trees, shrubs and mulch planting.
              • Replacement of the irrigation system along the Eaton Trail.
            • Trail Maintenance Crews
              • Total cost – $1,250,500
              • Crews will maintain the McKenzie, Sugar Pine, Willow and two midtown trails.
            • A new trail crew would cost $514,000
            • An additional parks mow crew would cost $1.3 million
              • *These figures do not include Measure P appropriations in the Department of Public Utilities for the Beautiful Fresno Litter Control Program.*
          • Key accomplishments from the FY 2023 budget
            • Repaired/restored irrigation in 57 parks
            • Improved trail maintenance to a 60-day cycle
            • Trimmed 39 geobases containing 17,200 trees with an additional 16 geobases and 6,800 trees trimmed using council infrastructure funds
            • Exceeded the city’s 1,000 new tree goal with a total of 1,500 trees planted
            • Completion of Van Ness and Weldon Street work for the preparation of a new park
            • Collected over 178,000 pounds of trash
            • Installed protected bike lanes on Van Ness, Palm and First streets and moved an additional 7 miles of bike paths into construction phases along Wishon, Fulton, Palm, Belmont and Barstow Avenues
            • 90% complete on energy efficiency upgrades at 73 sites for PARCS with Fresno Police and Fire departments, saving $22 million over 15 years
          • Measure C Trails
            • Total cost for the Midtown Trail – $5.9 million
            • Total cost of MLK Active Transportation infrastructure – $211,600
            • Total cost for the Eaton Trailhead on Friant Road – $1.4 million
            • Funding was partially formalized from the city of Fresno’s 2017 Active Transportation Plan update.
            • Total cost of the Fancher Creek Trail, from Chestnut to Peach – $636,400
          • Barraza: Regarding the trail next to Jensen Avenue, will that be sufficient to complete the entire MLK Project? Why is there no funding from TCC allocated to this project? A county trail that goes by Minnewawa and Clovis avenues is used widely by the public, so will that project be connected to city trails? Will there be TCC funding to complete this trail as well?
            • The city of Fresno worked with the Fresno Irrigation District to complete the Fancher Creek Trail.
          • Commissioner Miller motioned to accept the recommendation for City Council to adopt FY 2024.
            • Singh wanted to clarify how much money is being allocated to pickleball courts
            • Two items are going to the City Council for pickleball court design at Roeding, Vinland and Rotary East parks for a total of $110,000
              • Singh’s concern is that, for over two years, his community has been asking for various courts for various sports. Pickleball has been funded while other courts/sports are not. The concern lies in that it’s the only sport that’s being funded for single-use courts while other sports receive no court funding or funding for multi-use courts/fields.
              • Resurfacing construction for Roeding Park’s 3 northernmost pickleball courts is in the FY 2024 budget.
              • Singh made a recommendation to amend single-use pickleball court crestoration to multi-use court construction.
              • Aguirre: The scope and pricing of the projects have already been decided, so the items would need to be pulled from the agenda per this recommendation.
              • Lafayette Park has been identified as a potential futsal court location.
              • Because the City Council approved the FY 2023 pickleball court restorations at Vinland and Rotary parks, Singh made a motion to amend Roeding Park’s single-use pickleball courts to be changed to multi-use courts for various sports.
              • Unanimous approval of Singh’s motion by the council.
              • McCoy: Does the council recommend the adoption of the FY 2024 Public Works, Utilities, and Measure P Budgets for City Council to consider, subject to amendments mentioned in this meeting?
                • Sing and McCoy cast “no” votes with no explanation. The commission approved the adoption of the budgets to be considered by the City Council. 
                • Singh asked if one commissioner could be present during the upcoming City Council meeting. McCoy will be present either on behalf of herself as a resident or as a member of an organization she is part of, but not as a member of this commission.
            • Aguirre: The park ranger program, via the Fresno Police Department,  is attempting to provide 20 officers for the Park Ranger program through the fiscal year 2023 budget. A copy of the park ranger hiring requirements will be provided to the commission per McCoy, as the original intent was to hire park rangers outside of the police department.
      • Public comment by resident Sarah Parkes
        • A few years ago, a volunteer placed trash cans along a trail and volunteered to collect and dispose of the trash. She would like the commission to consider placing trash cans along trails in an effort to abate trash buildup.
      • Public comment via Zoom by resident Lisa Flores
        • Flores has a problem making a public comment on this current PARCS budget. Last Friday, when this meeting announcement came out at the 4 o’clock PM hour – she called the city clerk at 4:30 p.m. to request a copy of the presentation. She still has not received the document and has no information about what is being expended regarding the relocation of a dog park.
        • Flores commented that she had requested this for ADA accessibility reasons along with requests from Mr. Gary’s office with no response. Fores asked the commission to please reject this budget, because rejecting requests made by individuals for ADA reasons should disallow the commission to move forward. Flores would also like to see progress on the construction of parking structures, and a  Roeding Park dog play group will be joining tomorrow’s Zoom meeting.
        • Oputa would like to add a special note to the minutes to acknowledge Flores’ public comment.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at fresnodocs@fresnoland.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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