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New Fresno Park to Feature Giant Slide & Bear. Dyer Talks Budget and Trip to Japan
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 weeks ago on
April 2, 2024

A rendering of the new southwest Fresno park features a sloping slide, and a giant wooden brown bear. (City of Fresno)

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A new city park in southwest Fresno will feature a giant slide and a big bear.

City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the park near Church and Walnut avenues on Monday, next to the new Fresno City College west campus. The 10-acre park has not been formally named. For now, it is labeled “New Southwest Fresno Community Park.”

Mayor Jerry Dyer said the park is part of an investment in a long-neglected part of Fresno.

“It sends a message that the community in southwest Fresno was forgotten no more. … There’s a long-standing history in southwest Fresno of a community that has been neglected and oftentimes, feels forgotten and understandably so,” Dyer said.

Park costs total $12 million — $8.7 million for construction, funded primarily by state Transformative Climate Communities Project dollars ($5.4 million). Park fee revenues ($5.2 million) and contributions by the developer of the area, 2500 MLK Group ($1.5 million) complete the funding.

The city says “the play area will be inspired by the Sierra Nevada mountains and the central feature will be ‘Park Peak,’ a prominent sculpted landform providing views over the park and the surrounding neighborhood.”

That includes a slide over a slope, with a wooden brown bear structure. Construction will take seven months. City officials say it will be open by the end of the year.

Renderings of the new city park planned for southwest Fresno. (City of Fresno).

What is the City Budget Deficit?

Earlier this year, city officials warned the local budget deficit could be $10 million for the upcoming fiscal year. At a mid-year update presented last month, that number swelled to $37 million.

Why the discrepancy? Mayor Jerry Dyer says the numbers are “floating.”

“Quite frankly, when you get projected revenues versus actual revenues, that’s when the numbers change,” Dyer said. It depends, he said, where tax revenues finish.

The city still has pandemic relief funds that could offset budget shortfalls, Dyer said.

“We’re going to do some things that will offset that $37 million or $40 million shortfall. We’re working with the council. I start those meetings (Monday), meeting individually with councilmembers, to to understand some of their priorities. And then to be able to see if there are ways that we can increase revenues, quite frankly, on property tax,” Dyer said.

Important to Be in Japan, Dyer Said

Dyer recently returned from a trip to Japan, part of a city council delegation to learn about high-speed rail and developments surrounding passenger stations.

He compared neighborhoods in Tokyo to “transplanting” the Fashion Fair mall near a train station.

“When people get off the train, they’re looking for someplace to eat or drink or shop, or visit something that has some type of cultural arts experience,” Dyer said.

Dyer received some critics when he posted pictures from the trip on his Facebook page.

“You have to make investments and sometimes those investments in travel. I received a lot of criticism when I went (last year) to Vienna to look at their housing model. But the people I went on that Vienna trip with were people from the state Legislature that I built relationships work with that ultimately supported us getting the $250 million from the state of California,” Dyer said.

Fresno Starbucks Back on the Agenda

It was an interesting sight at the park news conference, blocks from a proposed Starbucks on Church Avenue. The 2500 MLK development group — a combination of the Shehadey family and Sylvesta Hall — donated the land where the park will be built. They stood side-by-side with Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias.

Arias delayed Starbucks’ approval on March 21, citing concerns about traffic. The item returns to the city council agenda on Thursday.

“We’re getting there,” Jim Shehadey said about the approval progress.

The park and Starbucks are part of the larger West Creek Development project, which will also include residential homes and more retail.

The location will be more than just trendy coffee. The 5,700-square-foot location will also include a community conference room.

Developer Sylvesta Hall (left) stands behind the man who slowed down his proposed southwest Fresno Starbucks, Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
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

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