Yesterday the Fresno Bee published an excellent article by Marek Warzawski that described the current situation with Fresno River West. Today the Bee published a statement from Mayor Lee Brand meant to refute the facts in Marek's article.
Strangely enough, the Mayor's rebuttal is based on a false premise - the idea that the city's alternative access route known as 5b is the only way that people can access the site at Palm & Nees on foot, bicycle, or public transportation. In fact, since the first conceptual plan for access was presented in 2004, there has always been a pedestrian/bicycle access point at Palm & Nees. This isn't something the City dreamed up, pedestrian and bicycle access at Palm & Nees has been included in every iteration of the plans for Fresno River West.
The other premise that seems a bit shaky is the idea that Palm & Nees is a perfect access point for those who utilize public transportation. That statement might lead you to believe that there is a bus stop at Palm and Nees. Is there such a bus stop? No. FAX service actually travels up and down Ingram Avenue North of Herndon. In case you want to check this for yourself, here's a picture of the FAX route map in the vicinity of River West.
Just to be clear, there is only one public road that currently reaches the project site within the City of Fresno. It's called Riverview Drive, and it's evaluated as Alternative 1 in the EIR. If the Conservancy Board is serious about providing access to the project site in Fresno, that's the only alternative that provides access today.
Please join us on Wednesday at the public hearing on the FEIR, and ask the Conservancy Board to direct staff to prepare a new resolution and findings to approve Alternative 1. It is important that the Conservancy Board hear from you. Please plan to attend each of these important meetings.
November 15, 2017 at 10:00 am - Fresno City Hall
December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am - Meeting location to be announced.
Over the past few months, we've also advocated for the approval of Alternative 5 - access on a gravel haul road at the end of Nees Avenue. The Alternative 5 access is linked by an easement to the access provided at Riverview Drive. The Alternative 5 access point is still an important access route, and we hope that it will be implemented in the future. But it doesn't actually provide access to the River West project site. It is separated from the project site by a landfill that is in private ownership. It's a great access point for the San Joaquin River, but doesn't actually allow someone to reach the River West property or the extension of the Eaton Trail.
That's why we're now focused solely on the approval of the Alternative 1 access point.
This is a critical moment in the history of the San Joaquin River Parkway. If the Board chooses to approve access to the site without Alternative 1, they have basically closed the door on Fresno access to a 500 acre river bottom property.
We - you and me - purchased this property back in 2003. The property was funded with public funds from several grant programs, and private funds from the Packard Foundation through the Resources Legacy Fund.
The property was purchased with legal access from two public roads - Riverview Drive, and Perrin Avenue off of Highway 41. Almost 15 years later, some of our neighbors are trying to prevent you and me from driving on a public road to public land.
Don't let them get away with this. Join us at the meeting next Wednesday and ask the Conservancy Board to approve Alternative 1.
Thank you for your support of the long-term effort to create the San Joaquin River Parkway.