Valley Voices

Yes on P: Now is our chance to revive Fresno’s parks, neighborhoods, says Alan Autry

Wayne Fine, city of Fresno irrigation specialist, talks at a backflow device, which he tended to after damage to valves by vandals or homeless people camping in Roeding Park, who use pliers to turn, and thus, strip the brass as they attempt to gain access to water.
Wayne Fine, city of Fresno irrigation specialist, talks at a backflow device, which he tended to after damage to valves by vandals or homeless people camping in Roeding Park, who use pliers to turn, and thus, strip the brass as they attempt to gain access to water. Fresno Bee file

All great cities are known for the quality of life provided for all of their residents. Nothing defines those cities more than the special amenities that make them unique. The resurgence of the Chaffee Zoo as one of the premiere zoos in the nation is an outstanding example here in Fresno. When Fresno County citizens approved Measure Z, this is what they wanted, and this is what they now have. On Nov. 6, voters in Fresno will have the opportunity to make our parks and recreational amenities spectacular with the passage of Measure P.

In contrast to our world-class Chaffee Zoo, the 145-acre Roeding Park that surrounds our zoo is unsafe and virtually unusable from a lack of investment and maintenance. The bathrooms and playground equipment are in disrepair and poorly maintained, creating hazards for the children and families who attempt to use the park. Storyland/Playland struggles to remain open and provide the quality experience for today’s children that so many of us grew up enjoying. And, sadly, there is a consistent homeless population that takes temporary shelter in the park due to a lack of city personnel who can work with them to find permanent shelter and services.

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Alan Autry Fresno Bee file

We now have the opportunity to change these conditions – not just in Roeding Park and Storyland/Playland, but across the citywide park system by voting yes on Measure P. The need for improved parks in Fresno is undisputed and dire, and Measure P offers a clear solution to repair and upgrade our city’s parks and provides a guaranteed source of local funding to make safety improvements to our existing parks; create new parks and trails; and fund recreational, after-school and arts programs across the city. It will bring our parks up to health and safety standards by completing crucial repairs to restrooms, playgrounds, sports fields, and ensuring people with disabilities have better access to their local parks.

Opponents of Measure P believe that the citizens of Fresno must choose between public safety or parks. Great cities don’t choose between the things that make them great. They find a way to do all of them. That’s why the supporters of Measure P are both pro-parks and pro-public safety. We understand that the path to a healthy community and crime prevention is multifaceted and must include investing in areas of Fresno that have been neglected for far too long.

Measure P provides a proactive approach to neighborhood safety by adding lighting and security cameras, funding safety personnel to support parks, removing graffiti, and reducing homelessness in local parks. With the necessary funding to provide recreation and arts programs across the city, our youth will have safe places to play and learn after school instead of turning to the streets.

Measure P isn’t just a hopeful solution, it is backed with years of research and outlines a precise, detailed plan to improve our parks system. In January, our City Council unanimously adopted the Fresno Parks Master Plan, which found that 80 percent of our city’s parks are in fair or poor condition. Four months later, the Trust for Public Land ranked Fresno 94th out of 100 cities nationwide for having the worst park access, acreage and investment.

But if you talk with a family who lives near one of our many deteriorated parks, they don’t need a national study to tell them our parks need to change. Rusting metal, non-operational restrooms and facilities, safety code violations, broken playground equipment, graffiti and homeless encampments are all too familiar aspects of our city’s parks. Our children deserve better, and Measure P is a long-term solution that will provide guaranteed, local funding to fix what our city has ignored for far too long.

Measure P guarantees the revenue raised can only be spent on what is specified in the measure, and includes strict, fiscal accountability and citizen oversight. When Measure P passes, we know exactly how the money will be spent, and regulations written into the measure ensure it cannot be used for another purpose or taken by the state. Measure P creates a city commission to ensure citizen input and oversight on spending the funds properly and effectively across all neighborhoods.

The multitude of benefits Measure P will bring to Fresno are specific, substantial, and widespread. Measure P adds new jobs to our community, improves our property values, and helps attract businesses and top-tier talent to our city. The measure also includes funding dedicated to beautifying our local roads and freeways with landscaping and litter removal. These amenities are all critical components of any city’s economic vitality.

Voting yes on Measure P is a vote for clean, safe neighborhood parks throughout Fresno. Voting no on Measure P does nothing to improve parks or public safety. Voting no is choosing complacency and inaction, which has gotten us where we are today: ranked 94th in the nation and a city filled with dangerous, unusable parks.

Measure P was crafted by a group of dedicated residents and community leaders – not politicians – and was signed by more than 35,000 local citizens who wanted the opportunity to vote for Fresno’s parks on the November ballot. It’s time for us as citizens to take action and invest in the city we love by voting yes on Measure P.

Just as Fresnans banded together to pass Measure Z to make the difference for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Measure P is the difference maker for all of Fresno’s parks. Its vision for Fresno is bold and necessary to bring our parks and neighborhoods back to life.

Measure P helps create a Fresno all of our residents desperately need and deserve. Together, we can create a safe, healthy Fresno for generations to come. To learn more about the benefits of Measure P to our city, visit FresnoForParks.com.

Join us in voting yes on Measure P.

Alan Autry is a former Fresno mayor. David McDonald is former CEO of Pelco and chairman of the Yes On Measure Z campaigns.

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