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News Release: People Power Leads To $6.6 Million Park Investment In Fresno

CALWA, CA – Fresno Building Healthy Communities, in partnership with Friends of Calwa, Inc and Calwa Recreation and Park District, is pleased to announce that Calwa Park will benefit from a $6.6 million grant awarded by California Department of Parks and Recreation Statewide Park Program. Fresno Building Healthy Communities is only one of two award recipients in Fresno County and the only in the City of Fresno.

A little more than five years ago, about 500 youth made it clear to Fresno Building Healthy Communities: we need more and better parks in our city. Fresno Building Healthy Communities, along with several partner organizations, concerned residents and young advocates, went to work and this dedication led directly to the creation of a skate park at Romain Playground, a BMX park at Mary Ella Brown Community Center, and a new youth center and park at Saint Rest Baptist Church.

“Families, youth, residents and voters have been clear: parks are great investments in the community,” said Sandra Celedon, president and CEO of Fresno Building Healthy Communities. “People know what their neighborhoods need, particularly in South Fresno where all this momentum is happening. Parks keep getting built in and around Fresno with little, if any, help from local officials, and this speaks volumes.”

This latest community win comes in the wake of a Measure P vote in 2018, where more than 60,000 voters-nearly 53 percent- voted yes to a sales tax that would have directly invested in Fresno parks across the city.

“A park is more than a place to play,” added Celedon. “Parks directly impact our physical health and are excellent boosts to property values and the local economy. While elected officials complain about funding and building parks, people are taking action. The City of Fresno needs to take note and follow the community’s lead. The next mayor will be wise to make parks a priority.”

Funding for this project is thanks to Prop. 68, which was passed by California voters in 2018 and championed by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, who represents Calwa, and Fresno Building Healthy Communities. Prop. 68 authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for, among other things, state and local parks. Friends of Calwa and the Calwa Recreation and Park District were also instrumental in pursuing and securing this funding.

The upgrades at Calwa Park will focus on renovating the historic rocket ship structure and existing snack bar; constructing new art kiosks; adding five new picnic areas with shade structures; creating three new play areas; building a sensory & drought tolerant demonstration garden; adding a new open market area; building an adult fitness center area; carving out a walking loop; and adding safety lighting, drought tolerant landscaping, and shade trees throughout the park. WRT, a team of planners, urban designers, architects and landscape architects, and Urban Diversity Design, a San Joaquin Valley design firm that focuses on creating a livable, healthy environment, are working with Fresno Building Healthy Communities on the project. Work is expected to begin this summer.

For a complete listing of the award recipients visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation website.

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