Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is once again asking for advice on Fulton Mall, but this time there's a twist.
She's got nearly $16 million in hand to make sure something actually gets done with downtown's troubled pedestrian walkway.
About 30 volunteer members of the Fulton Mall Reconstruction Project Steering Committee met Wednesday evening to begin reviewing three potential plans for the six-block corridor in Fresno's urban heart.
The plans have been in the public domain for several years. The first would bring cars back to what once was Fulton Street between Tuolumne and Inyo streets in a way reminiscent of the 1950s. The second would have cars while retaining much of the mall's artwork and fountains. The third would keep the mall as is, but give it a top-to-bottom refurbishing.
The plans currently have plenty of pretty color drawings, but are short on specifics. Which trees survive in Plan 1? What happens to the clock tower in Plan 2? Can all the the fountains be repaired in Plan 3?
These and similar questions must be answered before Swearengin asks the City Council (perhaps in March) to choose a plan. Swearengin is keen on Plan 2, which she calls a hybrid of the other two.
The steering committee is City Hall's first step in tackling these details. Members include educators, business owners, downtown residents, concerned citizens and mall advocates. They are teaming with city-hired engineers and landscape architects to come up with recommendations.
This advice will work its way up City Hall's chain of command. In the end, Swearengin is responsible for what goes into each plan.
Wednesday's meeting was at the T.W. Patterson Building on the mall. Swearengin stayed only long enough to give committee members a brief pep talk.
"We all have something in common -- a love for our downtown," she said.
Swearengin has been working to re-energize what she calls the Fulton Corridor since she took office in January 2009. She says its recovery is pivotal to a brighter future for Fresno and the region.
The mayor has sought public input on her vision from Day One. But there was always one key question: Where's the money?
The answer arrived last month when the city received a $15.9 million federal grant for the mall.
That's probably why there was a ton of confidence in Swearengin's voice as she made her parting comment to the committee.
"You guys take it from here."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6272 or email@example.com. Read his City Beat blog at news.fresnobeehive.com/city-beat.