Fresno City Council members have approved a lease for a new Central District police station at the Manchester Center shopping center, awarded a $15 million contract for a pipeline to bring water to a city water treatment plant, and recognized a park employee who was coincidentally hit in the hand by stray gunfire from a gang shootout a day before he was presented with an Employee of the Quarter award.
David Harvey, a recreation supervisor at the city’s Frank H. Ball Park in southwest Fresno for more than 30 years, was one of 19 city employees to receive the quarterly awards from their department heads at Thursday’s City Council meeting.
Harvey was working inside the park’s community center on Wednesday afternoon when he heard gunshots ringing out from a fight between rival gangs outside, City Manager Bruce Rudd said.
One of the parents said, ‘My baby’s out there.’
David Harvey, a recreation supervisor at Frank H. Ball Park, on what triggered his instinct to rush to protect children during a shooting
“The first thing he did was reach forward for an 8-year-old child who was in the playground, grabbed the child and brings him back to safety within the community center, and as a result, he was struck in the hand by a stray bullet,” Rudd said.
And while Harvey was set to receive the award anyway, “this is the type of passion and dedication that exemplifies the employees we’re recognizing today,” Rudd added.
Harvey, his left hand and pinky finger bandaged, received a standing ovation from the City Council and a crowd of people who gathered for the ceremony at Fresno City Hall. But he quickly dismissed any notion that he considers himself a hero, instead saying he simply acted out of instinct when “one of the parents said, ‘My baby’s out there,’ ” he said.
“We were inside, and a lot of parents said, ‘Hey, there’s gunfire out there,’ bam-bam-bam-bam, and there was a little boy, so I just did what I had to do,” Harvey said.
Harvey’s wife, Liz, said her husband is definitely a hero, but he shook off the praise. “I just think it was necessary.” he said. “I was there, and I’m glad I was there at the time.”
The prospect of free rent, as well as a landlord’s willingness to make whatever modifications are needed for officers’ safety, helped drive the Fresno Police Department to select a second-floor space at Manchester Center, at Blackstone and Shields avenues, as the site for a new Central District police station.
The City Council, on a 6-0 vote, approved a five-year lease with the center for between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet.
The station will enable the Police Department to re-establish the Central District as a fifth patrol division, up from four districts now.
“We believe it is a perfect location, especially with new (district) boundaries when the station opens in August,” Police Chief Jerry Dyer told the council.
Officers assigned to the Central District will patrol an area bounded roughly by Belmont Avenue on the south, Ashlan Avenue on the north, First Street to the east and Golden State Boulevard to the west. The district has been carved from the existing Northeast and Northwest police districts.
Officers will be able to get to calls more quickly in Northwest because of the creation of Central. That is an absolute promise and commitment.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer
The department previously had a Central district, but that station near the Tower District was closed in 2011 because of budget cuts. “One reason we want to reopen Central is the effect it had in the northwest,” Dyer said. “Calls increased dramatically since the closing of Central in 2011.”
By reducing the geographic area that Northeast and Northwest officers will patrol, Dyer added, response times should be reduced considerably for life-threatening calls.
“The majority of the new Central district is the old Northwest district,” the chief said. “Officers will be able to get to calls more quickly in Northwest because of the creation of Central. That is an absolute promise and commitment.”
While the base rent at Manchester Center will be zero, the city will have to pay a share of operating costs for such things as maintenance of the center’s common area, taxes, insurance, heating/ventilation/air conditioning, and janitorial to the tune of between $3,440 and $4,300 per month. The shopping center is providing the police with 100 parking spaces, including exclusive use of gated and coded underground parking and an elevator to get from the parking garage to the office.
Damon Kurtz, vice president of the Fresno Police Officers Association, said the union raised safety concerns over some aspects of the station, particularly the availability of secure parking for patrol cars and officers’ private vehicles and security of a locker room. “We were never part of the planning and implementation,” Kurtz said. “We were not even aware (of the station site selection) until Tuesday afternoon.”
But, Kurtz added that he believed that Dyer and the mall ownership had addressed the association’s concerns between Tuesday and Thursday. “We’re very comfortable with what the chief is saying, but the chief is not the final say,” he said, noting that the lease was the City Council’s responsibility.
Rudd and several council members said they are committed to seeing that the officers’ security concerns are satisfied.
The council also approved a $15.1 million contract with Mountain Cascade Inc. of Livermore to build a 4.5-mile pipeline to connect the Friant-Kern Canal to a city water-treatment plant in northeast Fresno.
The pipeline is a component of the city’s sweeping, $429 million Recharge Fresno project intended to take advantage of Fresno’s annual allocation of surface water from the Central Valley Project and Millerton Lake.
By treating surface water for use by Fresno businesses and residents, the city hopes to be able to ease its reliance on groundwater and allow the underground water table to recharge so it is available for future drought years.
Mountain Cascade was the lowest of seven bids received by the city for the project.
Michael Carbajal, water division manager for the city’s public utilities department, said water from the Friant-Kern Canal now must traverse about 55 miles in open canals before it reaches the water treatment plant.
In addition to cutting about 47 miles from the route, an enclosed pipeline will “greatly reduce the threat to water quality in otherwise exposed canals, by contamination from environmental debris and accidental and malicious acts,” Carbajal reported in a memo to the council.