A problem with darkened streets in the Kirk Elementary School neighborhood in southwest Fresno turned out to have a basic solution.
Gregory Barfield, chief of staff for City Council Member Oliver Baines, walked the neighborhood on a recent night with residents. He agreed that the streets were too dark, but the lights were working.
Residents said new, stronger streetlights were necessary.
The following day, Barfield returned to the neighborhood and noticed that as he looked up at the lights, in many cases foliage obscured his ability to see them.
“The canopies covered the light,” he said. “We called and got the trees trimmed.”
Similar changes have been occurring in the Kirk Elementary neighborhood as part of Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s Restore Fresno initiative, a neighborhood revitalization effort. The Kirk neighborhood is the second targeted by the city, and the first to get served by a city trailer that is a mobile command post. It allows residents to come in and report their problems.
Some of the homes used to be blighted and boarded up, and now they aren’t and people are interested in moving into the neighborhood.
Michaelynn Lewis, a leader in Action and Change/Accion Y Cambia
The command post is equipped with computers and a neighborhood map with pins showing spots where residents have talked to the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Team about their concerns.
Some people can’t get to Fresno City Hall, said Del Estabrooke, the city’s Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization manager. Using the mobile command post, “we can bring the people from City Hall here,” he said.
The city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Team has opened 180 cases in the Kirk neighborhood in the past six weeks and some already have been resolved, Swearengin said at a news conference Friday in front of a recently renovated home a block from the school.
“We absolutely have to do it in partnership and leadership with residents of neighborhoods,” Swearengin said. “Kirk Elementary has been one of our early targets because, frankly, the leadership on the ground has been so impressive that it’s made it easier for city resources and the city team to come along and work right next to these Kirk neighborhood residents.”
Michaelynn Lewis, a leader in the group Action and Change/Accion y Cambia, said the residents worked with Barfield on the lighting problem, and participate in alley cleanups. She said more residents are taking care of their homes and getting help from the city to make improvements to their properties.
“A lot of things have been going on here,” she said. “Some of the homes used to be blighted and boarded up, and now they aren’t and people are interested in moving into the neighborhood.”
Her goal is to “get our neighborhood involved and become as viable as any other neighborhood and community in Fresno.”