City Wants Old UMC Campus. Will County Sell It for $4.25 Million? - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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City Wants Old UMC Campus. Will County Sell It for $4.25 Million?



The city wants to buy the vacant UMC hospital from Fresno County for $4.25 million. (GV Wire File)
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The city wants to buy a vacant hospital in southeast Fresno and turn it into a mixed-use facility with retail and housing.

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David Taub

Politics 101

The Fresno City Council voted 6-0 on Thursday to make a $4.25 million offer on the former UMC hospital from its owner, Fresno County. Council President Luis Chavez recused himself because he lives close to the property on the northeast corner of Kings Canyon Road and Cedar Avenue.

Money to buy the property would come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

If the county does sell UMC to the city — that is not guaranteed — the city plans to demolish the buildings and construct anew. The price tag to tear down and build up is more than $37 million.

During the council discussion, members indicated they would partner with a developer.

The county approved a sale of the 30-acre vacant facility in 2019 to a private developer. But the deal fell through after Steven Rapada, a staffer to Supervisor Sal Quintero, was arrested and charged with conflict of interest on the deal.

Rapada faces his next court date on Nov. 17.

Also in Politics 101: 

  • Want to buy an arena?
  • City hires new parks director, city clerk
  • Congressional candidate drops out
  • Business groups receive grants
  • Fresno EOC Chief  Contract Renewed

For Sale: An Arena, a Convention Hall and a Theater

Three buildings owned by the city of Fresno are for sale — Selland Arena, Valdez Hall and Saroyan Theatre. City Manager Thomas Esqueda says the city is gauging interest nationally.

Information about possibly selling the arena has been on closed session agendas in the past, making Esqueda’s statement at the council meeting the most public proclamation.

Esqueda said more information could come in December.

New PARCS director

Mayor Jerry Dyer found his new parks director from within.

Aaron Aguirre, a Fresno native and longtime city employee who is currently in the public works department, received the promotion.

“Being selected to lead a dedicated and hardworking team is an honor and a blessing that I am eager to dive right into,” Aguirre said in a news release.

Dyer introduced Aguirre to the council on Thursday to much praise. In the city, the department is known as PARCS — Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Services.

Aguirre replaces T.J. Miller, who has taken over the city’s personnel department. She replaced Parvin Nelloms Jr. who was fired in 2019. Why he left was never explained. He currently works in Madison County, Alabama.

New parks department director Aaron Aguirre (with microphone) is introduced to the city council by Mayor Jerry Dyer (Screenshot).

And a New City Clerk

Todd Stermer

The council hired Todd Stermer as the new city clerk on a 7-0 vote. Stermer replaces Yvonne Spence, who was fired earlier this year.

Stermer is a familiar face at City Hall, currently working as the city’s senior budget analyst. He previously worked as the city’s assistant city clerk. He starts his new job Nov. 15.

Spence has threatened legal action against the city, although no lawsuit has been filed. The city council did not specify a reason why she was dismissed. Sources say it was a performance issue.

Under the city charter, the city council controls the city clerk and city attorney offices. The remainder are overseen by the mayor’s office.

Lara Drops Out of Congressional Race

Angel Lara, a former staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, dropped out of the 21st district congressional race. The race remains crowded, with incumbent David Valadao, R-Hanford, still contending with six challengers.

Lara raised more than $56,000, FEC data showed. That ranked fifth.

Rudy Salas, a Democrat assemblyman from Bakersfield, entered the race last month. The boundaries of the district are being determined by an independent state redistricting commission.

Biz Hubs Receive Grant

Five Fresno nonprofits that help small businesses grow received a multi-million dollar grant from a national bank.

Wells Fargo presented a ceremonial $3.25 million check Wednesday at the Fresno Business Hub in downtown Fresno.

“Our major focus is really to reach out to small, disadvantaged businesses here in the community. They are predominately are Asian American or Southeast Asian business here. And really just to provide technical assistance in terms of making sure that they have opportunities to access resources,” said Blong Xiong, executive director with the Asian Business Institute and Resource Center. ABIRC received $250,000.

The grant will allow ABIRC to hire more staff to provide technical assistance to its target group.

“You can’t do these type of service over the phone or on the computer. It has to be face to face,” Xiong said.

The money will allow the business nonprofits to provide technical assistance for everything from applying for a loan to help with taxes.

“It’s going to take a village for us, not only to help small business overcome what we’ve had to sustain during this pandemic, but even before then or or even after the pandemic. We want those businesses to thrive,” said Cassandra Little, leader of the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce. Her group received $500,000.

Other recipients include Access Plus Capital, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, and Valley Small Business Development Corporation.

From left: Dora Westerlund, Cassandra Little, Tate Hill, Jenny Flores, Tim Rodriguez and Blong Xiong pose with a check from Wells Fargo (GV Wire/David Taub)

Reyes Contract Renewed

Portrait of Emilia Reyes, CEO of Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

Emilia Reyes

The Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission board renewed the contract of its executive director, Emilia Reyes. The unanimous vote took place Oct. 27.

Reyes, who started as the head of Fresno EOC in January 2020, received a three-year extension at a salary of $195,000 a year, through the end of 2024.

She could receive a 3% yearly increase if approved by the board, as well as a yearly $15,000 bonus. The deal does call for a $15,000 signing bonus.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email