Southeast Fresno is set to see a regional park and soccer complex after the Fresno City Council unanimously approved the continuation of a financing plan for the vacant 49-acre lot.
Leaders of Sunnyside High School, football leagues and Southeast Fresno residents have called on City Council and Mayor Jerry Dyer to endorse a resolution and commit to bringing the dream of the regional park to life and the football complex in an area of town where it is badly needed.
For years, local organizers and the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association (SEFCEDA) have been pushing the city to invest money to turn a former U.S. Department of Agriculture research site on Peach Avenue into something the community could use. So far, the City of Fresno has completed an environmental review and design of the plot, but funding for the project has been hard to come by.
SEFCEDA requested $3 million in the last round of state funding for regional parks to build the first two soccer fields.
Juvencio Alarcon, president of the Southeast Fresno Youth Soccer League, told the board before Thursday’s vote how difficult it was to schedule games for more than 40 teams in Southeast Fresno. But, the experience is invaluable for children, he said.
“Our children need more equipment, more parks, more space to grow – not just in football, but in life,” he said. “What soccer and other extracurricular activities can do is help a child find their way and continue to grow and become successful citizens. Not only do we teach football on the pitch, but we also want to educate in the classroom.
Sue Farmer, athletic director of Sunnyside High School, said the park will help students’ health and well-being. Beyond sports, the space could support activities such as band and choir practices and concerts, outdoor plays and a community garden, she said.
“It’s our hope that we send a huge message to our southeast community that they matter as much as those up north,” she said. “I know they don’t feel like that right now.”
Dyer and the city council have expressed strong support for the project. Dyer said he and his staff would work with the council to find funding for the project, even if that means finding private sector funding.
Council member Luis Chavez, who represents Southeast Fresno, thanked SEFCEDA staff and community residents for their work on the project.
“Today is a historic day in the city of Fresno. This will be the first regional park for southeast Fresno built by the city in decades,” Chavez said. “This has been one of the most popular efforts by children, youth, parents, nonprofits, churches and families in Southeast Fresno to advocate for this project. It is an investment in healthier, greener and cleaner parks in neighborhoods and is part of the council’s “Rebuild Fresno” initiative, which aims to invest in oldest parts of our city. »