Clovis council votes to turn vacant lot into plaza

The Fresno BeeJune 16, 2014 

The Clovis City Council unanimously approved plans to turn a vacant downtown lot into a new community plaza, despite objections from some business owners who lamented the loss of parking.

Clovis Centennial Plaza will feature a setting similar to a park built where the old state Department of Motor Vehicles once stood on Pollasky Avenue. The DMV left the site in 2007 and the vacant lot is now used for overflow parking and a weekend farmers market.

The project will include a 7,500-square-foot plaza with a stage for concerts and community events, two sites for buildings up to three stories tall and about 70 parking spaces, according to Bryan Araki, acting deputy city planner.

"We want to make sure this project is an asset to the community," said Tina Sumner, community and economic development director for Clovis.

The plaza is expected to cost the city about $2 million. Another $1 million from the city will be used for Americans with Disabilities Act improvements, landscaping and parking improvements, Sumner said.

Some City Council members raised concerns with pieces of the proposal, including the presence of a large tree in the center of the plaza.

Council Member Bob Whalen suggested incorporating a fountain into the plaza. "We need to do something more than just a tree in the center," he said.

Council Member Harry Armstrong was critical of the parking portion of the proposal, saying more of the lot should be devoted to additional parking spaces.

Carole Lester, Business Organization of Old Town executive director, supported the proposal. "Everyone is looking forward to seeing the eyesore fixed up," she said.

But several business owners said they did not like the loss of parking that would result.

"Being in business, you need parking spaces for customers to come to your business," said Louis Sarantos, owner of the 500 Club in Clovis. "Who will invest and open a business with no parking? It doesn't make sense."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659 or kelwood@fresnobee.com.

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