Now that a portion of Fulton Street has reopened to traffic and artwork and fountains have been restored, skateboard riders have migrated to the downtown spot.
And Fresnans have taken to social media to debate whether the skaters are a prime example of what city leaders wanted from the project – to breathe new life into the downtrodden thoroughfare – or if they’re defacing the art and fountains.
The debates have not been cool and collected. Threats have been made on social media. There’s been lots of name calling. Posts were deleted, then screenshotted and reposted. Commenting was disabled.
(Proceed to the post with caution. There’s foul language.)
It appears the skaters fancy the fountain near the CVS store.
Julianna Portillo-Rodriguez posted in the Facebook group “For the Love of Downtown Fresno” that she was “very sad to see that fountains are already being destroyed. Kids are jumping their bikes off them and doing tricks. Even cooling off in the water. I’m almost positive that’s not the intended purpose. … We can’t have anything nice ever…”
Many were concerned about the damage the skateboards and BMX-style bikes could cause to the concrete, pointing out it was taxpayer money used to restore the artwork.
“I love Downtown Fresno. … I want all of the work … that has been done on the art and the fountains to be respected and preserved and loved. I walk this every morning and I have seen the work that has gone into all of this and to see any of it messed up breaks my heart,” said Becky Foore-Hayden.
Some commenters assumed skating was welcome since the fountains weren’t equipped with skate stoppers. Others said the skaters were being respectful and not damaging the concrete. There was a bit of a “let kids be kids” sentiment, as well.
Nick Jones, the owner of the Tower District skate shop Shredworthy, responded, saying: “Y’all realize you’re just exposing a sick new spot to skate/BMX? It won’t stop, it’ll only increase over time. The mall actually had some skate spots that were featured in skate magazines, videos, etc. The street will have transplanted features that serve the same purpose. Just live and let live, they’re just having fun and perfecting their craft – Walk by like I did earlier, no damage at all.”
Some noted the city’s lack of parks and recommended a skate park be built nearby.
One of the apparent BMX riders, Rey Ybarra, didn’t help the heated debate by name calling and noting police officers gave him a “thumbs up” when he was at the fountain.
In another Twitter exchange, city of Fresno spokesman Mark Standriff said the city was aware of the activities and addressing it.
“Skateboarding on the newly renovated Fulton Street is an issue that has been discussed at length, and the recent social media posts underscore the need for the entire community to help the city with protecting this important investment,” Standriff said. “We are currently looking at a number of options, including increased security presence and monitoring, and will work with the Downtown Fresno Partnership in our enforcement efforts.”
Lots of cyclists have posted photos of their bikes against the fountains or artwork on the Downtown Fresno page. But, those photos don’t seem to irk people the same way as the skateboard shredding and BMX tricks.