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Granite Park Furor Rekindled. This Time, the Dispute Is Over Insurance.

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Granite Park's future is up in the air because it lacks sufficient insurance to protect taxpayers if there's an accident. (Jahz Tello/GV Wire)
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Two Fresno city councilmen are concerned that a recreational park lacks the insurance to protect taxpayers from financial responsibility should an accident happen there.

Granite Park not being properly insured “literally keeps me up at night.” — Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White

At a news conference Wednesday, Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi accused the operators of Granite Park of not carrying the necessary level of insurance to shield taxpayers from liability.

“The city can be sued for tens of millions of dollars with absolutely no protection,” Bredefeld said. “The city council is aware of this, and they’re completely negligent in meeting their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers, to their constituents.”

Bredefeld also sounded a familiar refrain: His council colleagues are giving “special treatment” to Terance Frazier, who operates Granite Park through his nonprofit under a contract from the city. Frazier is engaged to city councilwoman Esmeralda Soria.

Bredefeld called for Frazier to be removed as the operator of Granite Park.

Speaking to GV Wire, Frazier said that Granite Park is fully insured but not at the level the city requires. Frazier’s insurance agent said that he’s been trying to obtain the necessary coverage.

Karbassi expressed frustration, at times pounding the podium. He said it was a matter of ethics.

We are being intimidated because of a relative, a developer of someone who’s on this council, and it’s got to stop,” Karbassi said, referring to Frazier and Soria’s relationship. When asked to elaborate, Karbassi said there were no public documents he could release.

Frazier said in a news release that Karbassi is speaking out against Granite Park because he is running against Soria for a state Assembly seat. Frazier called it a “conflict of interest.”

Watch: What Exposure Do Taxpayers Face at Granite Park? 

Indemnifying the City of Fresno

At issue is whether or not the city is named as an insured party.

“One of (the city arguments) is adding this additional insured endorsement, which is specifically naming the city of Fresno. It’s very difficult to get. It’s been something that we’ve been trying to get for the past two and a half months,” said Eric Tedmus, an insurance agent speaking on Frazier’s behalf.

Tedmus says finding an insurance carrier for this particular need has been challenging.

“This is a difficult risk because it’s both a sports complex and it’s also an event place that is hosting venues and concerts and they have alcohol. And there’s a lot of potential personal injury claims. That’s why the market is challenging to get it. We’ve gone to like three different wholesalers,” Tedmus said.

Derek Franks, president of the minor league baseball Fresno Grizzlies — which plays at city-owned Chukchansi Park — said they were able to find the necessary insurance. He said it was not easy as there are few carriers who offer what the city requires.

The city, through its contracted attorney James Wilkins, sent Frazier’s attorney a letter on March 30 about Granite Park’s insurance deficiencies.

“The City has made it clear that CVCSF (Frazier’s nonprofit) must immediately cure these breaches. In the meantime, no furnishing, sales or distributions of alcohol at Granite Park are allowed,” Wilkins wrote.

City Manager Georgeanne White, speaking at a news conference later in the day with Mayor Jerry Dyer, said Granite Park not being properly insured “literally keeps me up at night.”

City Council Discussed Issue in Closed Session

GV Wire has learned that the city council discussed the insurance issue at Granite Park during closed session at the March 24 meeting. The council voted 5-1 to cease alcohol sales there immediately and allow Granite Park seven days to obtain the needed insurance. Bredefeld was the lone no vote and Soria recused herself.

The city attorney advised the council that the only way to correct the situation was to terminate the lease.

The video of the meeting does not show the council reporting the decision. It is unclear why the action was not publicly revealed, a requirement of the Brown Act — the state’s open meeting law.

Bredefeld declined to answer questions about the discussion because it took place in closed session.

Frazier Says He’s Being Targeted

Frazier says Bredefeld’s and Karbassi’s news conference proves that he is being unfairly targeted.

“I can’t say what the city is going to do. They’ve been fighting me for years on different stuff. … We’re going to jump through every hoop the city gives us to try to satisfy them even more.” — Granite Park’s Terance Frazier

“The City of Fresno has hundreds of service agreements with numerous business, organizations, and individuals. Each is required to maintain insurance as required by the City. Yet, Mr. Bredefeld and Karbassi only chose to look into the Granite Park contract, and then utilize City resources to identify a potential discrepancy between City requirements and Granite Park’s current insurance policy,” Frazier said in a news release.

“This is a prime example of why the city is being sued over Granite Park,” Frazier said.

Frazier sued in federal court about the city conducting an audit on Granite Park’s finances in 2020. The lawsuit claims the audit was unfair and incorrect. The case is ongoing.

What Happens Next

Bredefeld said only the city council can enforce the insurance situation at Granite Park. Mayor Jerry Dyer and White also said that only the city council can evict a tenant from a city-owned property.

Frazier is unsure of what will happen next.

“Everything is out there. I can’t say what the city is going to do. They’ve been fighting me for years on different stuff. … We’re going to jump through every hoop the city gives us to try to satisfy them even more,” Frazier said.

Granite Park regularly hosts youth baseball games. The Big Bounce America tour, with its giant bounce houses, remains scheduled for April 15-17.

Dyer said that any action on Granite Park would have to come from the city council.

“If that authority did rest with my administration, that action would’ve already been taken,” Dyer said.

Dyer expressed concern that the city is being exposed to liability and asked for a city council closed session to discuss the matter “as soon as possible.”

The mayor wants Granite Park to succeed, but says “this deal has not been working very well.”

Frazier in Default on Bills

Bredefeld and Karbassi also said Frazier’s nonprofit is delinquent on its utilities, such as PG&E. Letters last year between attorneys from the city and the nonprofit listed the amount at nearly $45,000.

“Yes, we are behind. This is exactly why additional support is warranted, which the city has agreed to,” Frazier said. “They just need to do their part. Please remember before we took over the park, the city was paying $180,000 a year for a weed patch.”

 

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