Valley Voices

It’s about time. Neglected west Fresno gets $38m boost in education, retail, green energy

Courtney Gooch
Courtney Gooch

After a long, hard-fought battle, southwest Fresno residents, community leaders and various organizations recently made history.

Now it’s time to put west Fresno in the headlines. And not your typical negative news, but headlines praising the community’s resiliency and power to turn around.

We raised our voices to make sure city leaders, state officials and many others would respect our vision to improve our community.

Thanks to our hard work and diligence, and in partnership with many agencies and groups like Fresno Building Healthy Communities and Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, more than $38 million will be used to transform southwest Fresno and finally connect our neighborhood with Chinatown, downtown Fresno and the rest of the city.

We recently voted on a plan that will help build a Fresno City College educational complex in our neighborhood, create more green space for our families, put a second grocery store in west Fresno and make our neighborhood more energy efficient.

After decades of neglect at the hands of city leaders and planners, which turned southwest Fresno into an unhealthy place to live, meaningful investment is finally coming to the area because we demanded this transformation and collaborated with other communities, like the downtown and Chinatown residents, to make this a reality.

The aim was never simply about southwest Fresno. Our goal was to connect with city leaders and collaborate with different groups to make sure that Southwest Fresno wasn’t left behind once again.

The simple fact is this: The Transformative Climate Communities bill that was signed into law last year was designed specifically for communities like southwest Fresno to improve our health, our community and our environment, but laws aren’t always carried out as intended, that’s why we stood up and spoke up for our neighborhood.

While the proposal enjoys widespread support from local elected officials like Mayor Lee Brand and Councilmember Oliver Baines, despite this display of people power, we are not done yet. We also need to ensure that the execution of this plan doesn’t punish people and families in the name of progress by leaving them with no place to go.

The plan that is put in place should protect our families and our small businesses. There needs to be an accountable and meaningful collaborative stakeholder structure established to ensure that this plan, the plan that our communities put together and voted for, is implemented according to our vision.

It wasn’t by chance that I made the decision to purchase my home just a block away from where I made my childhood memories in west Fresno. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the last 26 years, and like others, I wondered what would become of Fresno’s forgotten community.

The TCC project was exactly what the community needed to show city officials that the residents of southwest Fresno, Chinatown and downtown still have a burning passion for our neighborhoods and the people who so proudly call it home.

I love and believe in southwest Fresno because even through hard times, we persevered. Our purpose is clear and our mission is urgent. It is finally time to build the bridge that connects the city back together.

Southwest Fresno has waited long enough. It’s time to invest in southwest in the way we, the community, want. This is what democracy is all about.

Courtney Gooch is a resident of southwest Fresno, and is a Pension Consultant at Pension Design, Incorporated. She can be reached at