Granite Park’s operators say they’ve turned a new page, following city audit, late filings

In just a matter of months, it seems all the troubles swirling around Fresno’s Granite Park and the operators have dissipated.

The operator of Granite Park, Central Valley Community Sports Foundation, is back in good standing with the state Department of Justice. The nonprofit submitted its IRS 990 forms with the Registry of Charitable Trusts under the Attorney General’s Office, which were received Thursday. That brings the nonprofit’s status from delinquent to current.

“Nothing is ever going to be perfect when you go into a project that’s already been tainted,” said Terance Frazier, a developer who runs the foundation, referring to the park’s tumultuous past. “It takes time to unwind everything that’s been done out there and start new.”

For the first time in years, city officials and staff visited the park last week, Frazier said. Schools are turning to the park for after-school sports programs, and Frazier hopes the park will host some concerts later this year.

Three months ago, a city audit and late filings by the nonprofit raised questions whether it could continue operating the park.

A city audit made public in February found personal loans, missing documents and unaccounted money in the foundation’s bookkeeping. Then the nonprofit’s filings with the Attorney General’s Office fell into delinquency.

The foundation contracts with the city to operate Granite Park. In 2015, Frazier and his former business partner, Rep. TJ Cox, promised to invest $2.7 million to renovate the park and add other amenities, including jogging trails and basketball courts. The restaurant didn’t pencil out, Frazier said, but since then he’s also started work on soccer fields.

In return, the city agreed to a 25-year lease that paid CVCSF $150,000 a year for 10 years to help with staffing and maintenance. The agreement also said the city would provide direction to CVCSF on league activities.

Frazier has maintained the city didn’t keep its end of the deal since city staff never provided information or support for programs. “It was supposed to be the nonprofit and the city of Fresno,” he said. “One party was absent the whole time.”

Despite the city audit and delinquent filings, Fresno City Attorney Douglas Sloan said last month the nonprofit is meeting the terms of its lease.

City officials declined to comment for this story.

Frazier said his relationship with the city is on the mend, and the audit turned out to have a silver lining — he fired the third-party bookkeeper and has started doing the accounting in-house.

“Business has picked up at Granite Park,” he said. “People have really embraced it.”

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Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.