On Dec. 13, a high-ranking Fresno City official told the San Joaquin River Conservancy (the state agency charged with developing and administering the San Joaquin River Parkway) that if the conservancy chose to offend the sensibilities of a few well-heeled residents living in north Fresno by allowing parkway goers to access the river bottom through their neighborhood (via Riverview Drive) the City could retaliate by refusing to help finance trail maintenance.
The threat worked, and that day the conservancy voted to expend an additional $2 million to construct a new road to the river bottom at Palm Avenue.
With that vote, local politicians demonstrated that not only are they able to dominate the conservancy but that they are willing to treat with indifference the dreams of community volunteers who have spent decades helping to develop a socially responsible and equitable Parkway Plan.
Now I wonder whether developers aspiring to urbanize the river bottom will see this as their cue to advance ill-suited projects previously held in abeyance: river-edge commercial development, sports venues, amusement parks and additional housing. With public opinion trampled and the conservancy muffled by local politicians, I can’t imagine they would fail to seize the opportunity.
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Radley Reep, Clovis