1000 FRIENDS OF FRESNO
4781 E. Gettysburg Ave, Fresno, CA 93726
Phone: (559) 291-2261 Fax: (559) 291-4991
Meeting the Challenges of the Future with
As we wind down another year, it is time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. In 2006 construction work began on Eaton Plaza. The Amphitheater is now in use and we look forward to the completion of this wonderful park in the heart of downtown Fresno. Looking ahead to 2007, our goal is to preserve and improve Fulton Mall so that it may become the symbol of Fresno, and a wonderful park to be enjoyed by all. Have a great holiday season and the best of New Years. –Bob Dwyer
Your Tax-Deductible Support is Needed
It should be no surprise to our readers that 1000 Friends of Fresno has expenses. They include the printing and mailing of newsletters and citizens’ alerts, maintaining our web site, and legal services. Please take the time to write a check to “1000 Friends of Fresno” and mail it in the enclosed envelope. Or if you prefer, you can send your contribution through Paypal. Go to our website at: 1000friendsoffresno.org.
Your contribution is tax deductible.
Use It Or Lose It
Daily Fresno Area Express has been offering a free midday trolley service in Downtown Fresno for the past few months. On Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 2:00 trolleys will run every ten minutes on a route that connects such places as the Amtrak Station, the Convention Center, the Merced Mall, and a number of points along Kern Street and Van Ness Avenue. Its main purpose is to support downtown restaurants.
If there is not sufficient interest, the service will be dropped. Please tell others, and even if you don’t work downtown, make a special visit for lunch and a trolley ride. Use it or lose it!
The Fate of Fulton Mall
For many years a small number of citizens and public officials have conducted a campaign to turn the Fulton Mall back into a street despite clear indications that a much greater proportion of our citizenry want to preserve it as a pedestrian mall if properly maintained. This majority position was clearly affirmed by the Central Area Community Plan adopted in 1989.
In December 2000 the Redevelopment Agency pre-sented to the City Council a proposal to issue Requests for Qualifications to find design and consulting firms “to properly design the Fulton Mall including the introduction of limited vehicle traffic. . . .” The City Council approved the proposal. The Bay Area consultants awarded the contract did as they were instructed and recommended putting traffic on the Mall. When the consultants’ recommendations were presented to the Council in May 2002, a large number of citizens spoke in opposition to returning vehicular traffic to the Mall. A petition representing more than 90% of Mall merchants and building owners was pre-sented taking the same position. The City Council voted to “accept” the consultants’ report, but voted to explore ways of improving “the Fulton Mall district” rather than proceeding with the plan to vehicularize the Mall.
Many people hoped that the issue of whether or not to put traffic on the Mall was settled, but it wasn’t. Last March the Council voted for a new assessment of what to do about the Mall and called for “the collection of data through a public process so that the Council /Redevelopment Agency can make a decision on how to proceed with the Fulton Mall.” A series of meetings to allow public comment was scheduled during the summer and a “Working Group” was commissioned to consolidate public comments and other relevant information and report to the City Council. During the public meetings the overwhelming consensus that emerged from citizens who addressed the question of traffic on the Mall was clear: it must remain a pedestrian Mall. After some postponements the “Working Group” submitted its report on October 3, and foremost of the seven dominant themes it sum-marized from the meetings was “No traffic on the Mall.” The October 3 Council meeting was billed as a “workshop” at which the public could make additional comment, but the Council decided to postpone discussion of the matter because it had just received the report.
Although acknowledging the strong public sentiment against returning traffic to the Mall, the Working Group made the following recommendation:“Whether or not to open traffic to the Mall, or to improve access by other means, remains an open issue. . . . Before any decision can be made concerning vehicle traffic on the Mall, the Working Group strongly supports the completion of a traffic engineering study as part of the Downtown Transportation Plan.”
So the battle to preserve Fulton Mall is far from won. The Downtown Transportation Infrastructure Study is still in process; its recommendations are not expected for several months. But behind the scenes, according to our sources, the “put-traffic-on-the-Mall” group is working relentlessly to flout public opinion and have its way. Their reasons for persisting in this plan frequently change, and they have not been adequately scrutinized in open Council sessions. Interested citizens must keep the Council mindful that no decision on this important matter can be made without full public discussion and adherence to the procedures required by law.
Please see “September Letter to the City Council” for the Downtown Fresno Coalition’s position regarding the revitalization of the Fulton Mall.
September 21, 2006
Dear Council Members,
A number of useful suggestions were made for revital-izing the Fulton Mall in the series of meetings held in connection with the study requested by the City Council. The Downtown Fresno Coalition would particularly like to endorse a few of them, as follows:
1. setting up an entity to manage and market the Mall. This was one of the implementation actions specified under Fulton Mall District Policy 7 in the Central Area Community Plan.
2. aggressively encouraging the establishment of housing units on the Mall. This goal was sought by various implementation actions un-der Fulton Mall District Policy 3 in the Cen-tral Area Community Plan.
3. encouraging more festivals and public events on the Mall, especially those that celebrate the ethnic diversity of the Fresno area. This goal of capitalizing on Fresno’s ethnic diversity is also implied in various portions of the Central Area Community Plan.
As the above remarks suggest, there is hardly one sug-gestion made recently about Fulton Mall that is not found in the policies stated in the Central Area Community Plan. If the present Council will choose to do what past Councils have apparently failed to do, study the policies regarding the Mall laid out in the Central Area Community Plan and work to implement them, there will be no more need for “studies” of the Mall. It again seems important to point out that of all the studies, plans, reports made in the past about the Fulton Mall, the Central Area Community Plan is the ONLY ONE that has legal standing.
One very important conclusion that emerged from the public meetings is that Fresno’s citizens want the Mall –-all of it—maintained as a pedestrian mall without vehicular traffic. As Jim Boren stated in a recent editorial column in the Fresno Bee, the Mall “is an urban park in a city that has been criticized nationally for a lack of park space.” It provides a serene oasis in the center of a bustling city. Fulton Mall earned Fresno worldwide attention when it was built, and it continues to receive attention in the professional literature of urban planning, landscape architecture, and architecture. Its designer, Garrett Eckbo, is recognized as one of the most important and influential theoreticians and practitioners of 20th-Century landscape architecture. One expert places him in a very small group “who virtually invented modern landscape architecture.” Another expert identifies Eckbo as one of the “modern-era luminaries” whose work deserves to be preserved.
Like many other citizens, the members of the Down-town Fresno Coalition fervently hope that the City Council will begin to recognize that the Fulton Mall is one of the features of Fresno’s built environment that makes our downtown attractive and unique. It is an asset that deserves to be respected and preserved in accordance with its original design. The notion of destroying it, or any part of it, by putting a street through it at great expense for uncertain and questionable benefits, deserves to be permanently abandoned.
Ray McKnight, Chair
Downtown Fresno Coalition
Fulton Mall–Unique Element-James Oakes
The Fulton Mall is a unique element in Fresno’s built environment that makes our downtown attractive and worthy of being preserved. If the various councils over the years had focused on the positive aspects and imple-mentation of the Gruen Plan and the Central Area Com-munity Plan, we probably would not be now considering changing the Mall. Inherent in our political system is a built-in failure rate because of the lack of continuity, that is, a lack of commitment to the completion of adopted plans and policies. The recurrent criticism of the Mall seems to take precedence over recognizing all the many positives that have gradually occurred in the downtown area since the Gruen Plan was adopted and Mall completed in 1964. For example:
1. Completion of the Highway 180 connection about five years ago. The freeway loop was one of the major elements of the Gruen Plan.
2. Adoption of the mixed-use development ordi-nance last year to make possible the implementation of residential uses in the central area. There are already some new residential developments and others on the way, or being studied.
There has been more new development completed or planned in the past twenty-five years than the previous fifty. For example, consider the following twenty-five:
- Our new City Hall
- New Federal Courts Building
- New State Courts Building under construction
- New P.G.&E. Building
- Community Hospital Expansion
- Numerous new parking structures
- Rowell Building restoration
- Santa Fe Depot restoration
- Grizzly Stadium
- Re-use of old PG.&E building
- New IRS Building
- Start on Eaton Plaza
- Three new multi-story offices south of Tulare
- Expansion of Convention Center
- Roos-Atkins remodeling, 26,000 sq.ft. offices
- Maubridge Building restoration and adaptive re-use, 26,000 sq.ft. offices with integral parking
- New three-story office building on Divisadero near Highway 41
- Metropolitan Museum Expansion
- Plans for the new Main Fresno County Library to go in the area south of Divisadero, east of Fulton
- The replacement of the Vagabond Motel with apartments and office or commercial uses
- The Cornerstone Church’s commitment to re-use several buildings in the downtown area
- Remodeling of portions of the Security Bank Building for residential uses
- Civic Center Square Offices
- Water Tower restoration and Plaza
- Numerous other projects are in the planning or feasibility stages
The Gruen Plan is finally approaching full reali-zation. Now is not the time to consider a piece-meal abandonment of the Plan’s most visible element. Let’s give it another five years before talking about removing or altering the Mall. In that five years, let’s re-examine the recommendations of the Central Area Planning Task Force, which spent two years devel-oping the “Central Area Community Plan” under the Chairmanship of distinguished Fresno Architect, William Patnaude. Instead of wasting time and money changing the Mall, let’s apply the time, money, and creativity to implementing the recom-mendations already adopted.
Mall Name Change
-Frank Laury, Member, 1000 Friends of Fresno
Number one URGENT action: Officially change the name of the Fulton Mall to reflect its evolution from a business-commercial center into a civic, diverse, cultural park and pedestrian-oriented green space. “Futon Park’, Fulton Plaza”, “Futon Parkway”, “ Fulton Garden”, Fulton Promenade” — Anything to get rid of the word “Mall” which will forever conjure up a hopeless, (however historically well intended originally), beat-the-dead-horse notion that it can become a successful “shopping center” of department store/commercial venues, as a civic park it marries richly with the Eaton Plaza, Mariposa Mall, restored Warnors, Courthouse Park, Cultural Arts Developments at north and south ends, Metropolitan Museum ex-pansion. I am convinced that a name-change complete with media blitz/ribbon cutting would do wonders – mira-cles – to positively change government & public percep-tions of what it is and what it could & should become. Changing the name would cost the city budget almost nothing. Fresno is so shy of public parks $ – wouldn’t it be great to add such a large one so simply. And “Cars on the Mall” would never be considered.
Thoughts And Ideas For Our Community
-From Our Members
- Keep cars off Fulton Mall. Protect Fresno’s trees.
- We need cleaner air & better roads.
- Rail Consolidation!!!
- Fulton Mall can be preserved if you have PEOPLE living in the upper stories that line the street.
- Fresno needs more community based clean-ups.
- We need another natural “green space” like Wood-ward Park, not manicured like the playground parks. There isn’t any natural “green space” unless you drive to the mountains or go to Woodward Park and we need that.
- Downtown Fresno needs a huge green space; trails, trees and grassy area parallel to railroad tracks. Keep the Mall too.
- Keep up the good work 1000 Friends of Fresno
|Steering CommitteeRick Case|
Food Processing EquipmentRobert Dwyer
Certified Public AccountantRobert Dyer, AIA
Retired Principal Planner
City of FresnoJeanne Larson
Retired Botanical Consultant
Tou Long Lo
Hmong Community LeaderRay McKnight
Retired EducatorCharles Royse
Retired Insurance ConsultantDianna Stansell