At the risk of mischaracterizing James Catalano for his response to Jill Field’s call to build a park to compensate for the loss of Fulton Mall, his sense that the mall was stained by “graffiti, urine and blight” seems more the product of perception than of fact.
My walks along Fulton Mall this past year (and the pictures I took) show something different: a place that has been abandoned by the city’s more affluent residents, the same ones who ask me when I tell them I live south of Shaw, “Is it safe?”
I wonder if most people understand their question – and the perceptions from which it stems – as one embedded in a history of racism, in the white flight that obliterated so many once thriving communities (like Fresno). As cities now know, these exoduses have proven unsustainable.
I’m generally supportive of the current efforts to revitalize downtown through both code reform and through physical transformations of space, but I do wonder, who is doing the work to change the perceptions that keep many Fresnans away from the city’s center?
Unless there’s an equal effort to change people’s perceptions of downtown, there’s no guarantee that these other efforts will be successful.
Rubén Casas, Fresno