Fearing a replay of past city financial blunders, Fresno City Councilman Lee Brand proposed conditions on Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s plan to destroy the Fulton Mall that were incorporated into the project by city council vote.
These conditions mollified doubts about the case the mayor repeatedly has made, as recently as in this week’s Bee, to remove the only place downtown where Fresnans of all backgrounds, including the many immigrant small business owners on the mall, can stroll, wander and stretch their legs amidst world-class landscape architecture and art.
One reasonable Brand stipulation is that there be “no legal challenges” unresolved. This means that if groundbreaking proceeds before the two current lawsuits are settled and preservationists prevail, Fresno taxpayers may be on the hook for millions. (Sound familiar?)
Furthermore, if Swearengin, Brand and councilmembers like Steve Brandau and Esmeralda Soria, who support this out-of-step plan – asphalt for automobiles, what a concept! – don’t ensure compliance with oversights they imposed, why should we believe their promises to properly care for and restore mall art to Fulton?
I also wonder why anyone buys the mayor’s claims, when cars zooming past long-empty stores elsewhere in town haven’t provided the magic bullet she says will revitalize downtown.
Jill Fields, Fresno