First-round funding injects life into stalled development of southeast Fresno sports complex
A long-awaited sports complex in southeast Fresno is getting its first round of funding, thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act. It’s the first concrete funding for the project since the federal government donated the 49 acre plot of land on Peach Avenue 15 years ago.
District 5 councilmember Luis Chavez held a news conference at the site of the future park on Peach Avenue, near Butler Avenue Tuesday to announce $8.5 million funding for the first phase. It will include the final design phase and the first amenities such as green space, soccer fields and tennis courts.
Chavez called Tuesday’s announcement “historic,” following the years-long process of bringing the idea to life. “We're from [the] southeast and nothing ever comes easy, right? We got to work hard and scrap and fight and argue, but at the end of the day we come together and we work towards that goal of our community,” he said.
Mayor Jerry Dyer said the funding was initially delayed following the recession in 2008. The project languished until 2020, when the city partnered with Jose Leon-Barraza, CEO of the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association, who led the effort to solidify plans for the park, which he says will solve a huge need for green space in Southeast Fresno.
“About 70% of the folks that live in southeast Fresno live in apartments. Apartments don't have a lot of space to celebrate a birthday of your family and guess what? This will have plenty of space for family to celebrate events of their loved ones,” he said.
Leon-Barraza, who also represents District 5 on the Fresno PARCS Commission, said he hopes to make future recommendations for the sports complex. The mayor also recognized the process to fund the complex will take a multi-year budget commitment. “I am committed to seeing this project completed every single phase it will be developed on this property,” he said.
Other plans in the works for future phases include a community center, a veterans memorial garden, trails and a walking loop with fitness stations. In addition to the park development, the city’s Public Works department will begin a street widening process on Peach Avenue. The $5.8 million project will be funded through Measure C dollars and transportation funds and is expected to be completed by summer of 2023.