Documented by Matthew Carnero-Macias
Here’s what you need to know
- Beautify Fresno Director Mark Standriff reported to the commission updates on Beautify Fresno Measure P funding and progress. The total budget of Measure P Category 5 funds for fiscal year 2024 is $1.2 million and $3.5 million in general funds.
- Public Works Director Scott Mozier presented updates on the Landscape Division, Safe Walking and Biking Trails, Beautification, and San Joaquin River Parkway project. He informed the commission that Park Maintenance and Park Irrigation Programs and Projects, Category 1, account for more than $12 million in the fiscal year 2024 amended budget, with the San Joaquin River Parkway Master Plan receiving 18% of the funds.
- Collectively, the commission made three motions that impact residents. The recommendations are related to funding for community organizations and nonprofits, creating a new position for urban forester, and Measure P text and media language translation.
- With an outstanding portion —75%— of the General Fund Park Irrigation budget going toward repairs and vandalism mitigation, how can the city deter such activities?
- Can charging ports, auxiliary power sources, and water sources be installed at city parks to deter damage to park infrastructure such as the vandalism referenced by Public Works Director Scott Mozier?
- For future public meetings, would it be beneficial to community members if Measure P guidelines and provision documents were made available?
The Fresno Parks, Recreation, and Arts Commission (PRAC) convened for their regular meeting on Nov. 6.
Commissioners present were Chair Kimberly McCoy, Vice Chair Jon Dohlin, Scott Miller, Mona Nyandro Cummings, Harman Singh, Kelly Kucharski, and Laura Ward. Commissioner Jose Leon-Barraza was absent. One vacant seat remains.
Beautify Fresno Director Mark Standriff reported to the commission updates on Beautify Fresno Measure P funding and progress.
The total budget of Measure P Category 5 funds for fiscal year 2024 is $1.2 million and $3.5 million in general funds.
Standriff announced the addition of a business manager and community coordinator as part of the new hiring. He said personnel and staffing are on track after four months of recruitment efforts and activity.
He reported that $100,000 is allocated for new campaigns and community outreach.
Educational directives are a 2024 priority; an online environmental education curriculum for educators is launching in January 2024.
Lastly, Standriff informed the commission that schools are the focal point of neighborhood blitzes and revolve around these neighborhoods.
Commissioner McCoy was not pleased about not receiving notes and documentation that was requested in previous meetings. She also expressed to Standriff that the city’s highest needs neighborhoods should be prioritized during the selection of neighborhood blitzes (intensive infrastructure repairs and litter abatement). Her last inquiry directed to Standriff was the functionality of the online education curriculum.
Public Works Director Scott Mozier presented to the commission updates on the Landscape Division, Safe Walking and Biking Trails, Beautification, and San Joaquin River Parkway project.
He informed the commission that Park Maintenance and Park Irrigation Programs and Projects, Category 1, account for more than $12 million in the fiscal year 2024 amended budget.
He reported that 47% of the budget is allocated for acquisition, development, improvement, restoration, operations, maintenance or rehabilitation projects as part of Category 5 expenditures. These include trail development, urban greening, planning, designing, and engineering, and permitting activities, no more than 20% of the funds shall be made available for operations and maintenance of trails, and no less than 25% of funds shall be prioritized for pedestrian and bicycle pathways.
Also, 18% of the funds shall be made available for operations and projects consistent with the San Joaquin River Parkway Master Plan and an additional 35% of funds be allocated for litter and debris removal, landscape beautification and restoration projects, the planning, designing, engineering, and permitting associated with this work, and prioritizing projects that reduce overall water usage.
Mozier reviewed other expenditures related to Category 5 initiatives and projects including trail maintenance, the Shields Trail, Southwest Fresno Green Trails, Barstow Class IV Bike Lanes, Active Transportation Program (ATP) Trail and Urban Greening, San Joaquin River Parkway and Major Street Beautification.
He reviewed project highlights for Major Street Beautification, the Barstow Class IV Bike Lanes and the five-segment Midtown Trail, a 7.1-mile pedestrian trail designed for physical activity and commuting located in central and southeast Fresno.
The budget for the Midtown Trail corridor system exceeds $21 million; funding sources include Caltrans, Caltrans ATP, Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), Measure C Trails and Measure P Category 5.
Dohlin said he was shocked at the significant expenditures related to the repair and vandalism mitigation of park irrigation systems.
McCoy inquired about the neighborhoods surrounding the Fresno City College West Fresno Center. She asked if the area surrounding the campus is expected to be beautified. Mozier confirmed millions of dollars are allocated for current and forthcoming city and county infrastructure projects linked to that area.
Assistant director for the PARCS department, Edward Chinevere, presented the Parks, After School, Recreation, and Community Services (PARCS) Department’s fiscal year 2025 Budget Build process.
He announced that on Nov. 20, the fiscal 2025 Hearing and Budget Motions item will come before the city council, and in June 2024, the city council will adopt the fiscal 2025 budget. Several commission and city council meetings will be happening leading up to both meetings.
As part of the public hearing, Cummings made two motions. Both were unanimously approved.
The first motion would set aside $2 million in funds for nonprofit and community organizations that provide after-school recreation, community services and workforce development programming through the park system, resulting in Measure P grant support. It was unanimously approved.
The other motion recommended that the Public Works Department be allocated $200,000 to establish a new urban forester position. This motion was unanimously approved.
Ward recommended a motion that allocates $50,000 for the translation of Measure P information into other languages. This motion was unanimously approved.
Resident Hugo Morales commented on allocations related to Measure P, updates to the Parks Master Plan and Cultural Arts Plan and annual PARCS Department Budget and Capital Improvement Plans.
He criticized Measure P guidelines and provisions. Specifically, he supports funding transparency.
He referenced that there is no requirement for documenting the candidates who apply for funding support. He said the community should know who the applicant is and what they plan to do with the funds.
The last suggestion he made was that applicants should be limited to receiving funds from either the general fund or Measure P allocations and not both sources.
He asked the commission if there were enough funds designated to allow for
small-budget organizations and startups to participate fully.
There were no other public comments during the hearing.
- 5.-A. ID 23-1614 Approval of the regular meeting minutes of Oct. 30.
- Unanimously approved.
- 6.-A. Cultural Arts Plan
- “The arts guidelines will be before the City Council on Nov. 16,” said Ward in her report.
- 6.-B. Parks Master Plan
- No report.
- 7. Members’ Reports and Comments
- Commissioner Singh reported a block party is taking place at Jaswant Singh Khalra Park on Nov. 11.
- 8. City Administration and PARCS Staff Reports and Comments
- Director of Parks, After School, Recreation, and Community Services Aaron Aguirre reported that the West Fresno Community Center Rehab Planning Project approved an agreement for professional contracts for engineering and architectural services at Mary Ella Brown, Frank H. Ball, Sunset, and Maxie L. Parks community centers. Senior outreach phase 2 events are happening this week on Nov. 8 at Red C. Wills Community Center from 9-11 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14 at Senior Citizen’s Village from 9-11 a.m., and on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the Link at Blackstone from 1-3 p.m.
- 9. Unscheduled communication
- Sarah Parkes of the San Joaquin River Park and Conservation Trust inquired about the painting of the Barstow bike lanes, the recruitment of a new trail crew and the Quad Knopf report on the proposed budget plan.
- 10.-A. ID 23-1615 Workshop- Overview of fiscal year 2024 Landscape, Trails, Beautification, & San Joaquin River Parkway to inform the fiscal 2025 budget.
- 12.-A. ID 23-1616 Hearing – Actions pertaining to the Parks, After School, Recreation, and Community Services Department’s fiscal year 2025 Budget Build as it relates to capital projects; after-school, recreation, and community services programs; and trails, beautification, and the San Joaquin River Parkway 1. Presentation – Overview of the fiscal 2025 Budget Build Process. 2. Receive public input on expenditures related to the PARCS Department’s fiscal year 2025 budget. 3. Action – Make recommendations to the City Council for the adoption of expenditures in connection to the PARCS Department’s fiscal year 2025 budget.
- 12.-B. ID 23-1617 Hearing – Receive public input on allocations related to Measure P, updates to the Parks Master Plan and Cultural Arts Plan, and annual PARCS Department Budget and Capital Improvement Plans.
- “I’m very pleased to be able to give you our presentation on not just about where we stand with the budget for fiscal year 2024,” said Beautify Fresno Director Mark Standriff during the Beautify Fresno workshop. “But kind of a progress report on what we’ve been doing in the community over the last year and certainly over the last few months of this particular fiscal year.”
- “It’s a gradual process because really what we’re trying to do is change behavior, and the only way that we can do that is to present to folks that there’s a change, from the city’s perspective, in attitude and accountability,” Standriff said
- “Do you see any sign that Beautify Fresno in addition to the work on the ground is having any impact on reducing the amount of trash that is on the streets and that the education outreach is working?” asked Commissioner Jon Dohlin during the Beautify Fresno workshop.
- “The downtown median islands had really not seen any reinvestment in about 20 years,” said Public Works Director Scott Mozier during the San Joaquin River Parkway project workshop.
- “We would love to see that number get under control,” Mozier said in his report on park irrigation repairs and vandalism mitigation during the San Joaquin River Parkway project workshop. “There’s a lot of confidence that the park rangers coming online will help address a good portion.”
- “Cities of this size often look to establish a position for urban forester for the purpose of strategic expansion and care of the urban forest,” said Commissioner Mona Nyandro Cummings in her response to Mozier’s presentation on Landscape Division, Safe Walking and Biking Trails, Beautification, San Joaquin River Parkway project. “We rarely actually say the word tree and urban trees bring so much benefit to our communities.”
- “Each one I think is in the spirit of making Measure P funding equitable and available as much as possible within the structure,” said community member Hugo Morales in his comment addressing Measure P funding transparency and the commissions’ previous three motions.
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