Zoo expansion will bring giant parking lot into historic park

This problem deserves a longer post, but I dont have time, so here’s a summary.

-Roeding Park, one of two major parks in Fresno, the oldest and most historic.
-Fresno Chaffee Zoo, located inside the park.

The plan: Expand the zoo by closing off existing portions of the park and making them zoo-land.

The problem: The Roeding Family (they donated the land for the park) is concerned about taking public park land and giving it to the semi-private zoo, and how this will hurt recreation opportunities for the poor (it’s in a poor neighborhood).

My concern: Ignoring THAT issue, the plan has one giant flaw: AN ENORMOUS PARKING LOT! The city wants to bulldoze 100 year old trees to build a giant parking lot. What a great way to celebrate open space in a park!

Here’s what the plan would look like:
Blue area = expanded zoo
Black area = “Storyland” a small existing theme-park for kids (entrance fee charged)
Red area = Car zone. Parking. Widened roads. Asphalt.


See how much is left of open recreation space? Not much!

My quick and easy solution? If a parking lot is absolutely required, because by gosh, driving is the ONLY way to get anywhere….

Then build it here!


Red: Proposed parking lot
White: Pedestrian crossing and walking flow.

Please note that the street is wide enough for street parking on both sides. It’s allowed, but there’s so much overbuilt parking already, that nobody feels the need to use the FREE street parking!

Here is what the park looks like now:

I sent this letter to my council members.

Councilor Brand,

From what I’ve seen in the Fresno Bee, it appears that the council will be voting on the expansion of the zoo in Roeding Park this week.

While I am in favor of an expansion, there is one major concern I have not seen addressed in the process. The current plan shows a giant parking lot being built in the middle of the park. This is outrageous, the park should be for recreation, open space, and nature, not the storage of private property. Further, asphalt traps heat and prevents rain from entering the ground, harming the rest of the park in the process, and shrinking the useable and pleasant space.

People go to parks to get away from cars, not sit in the grass a few feet from them.

I would appreciate it if you would raise this concern at the meeting.

A suitable alternative exists. There is a very large open space across the street from the zoo, on the other side of Belmont. The zoo should buy this land and use it for parking. Further, Belmont and Olive allow street parking, but that space is never used. Clearly there is already too much parking.

The only parking within the park boundaries should be a few spaces for the disabled, and a few spaces for the necessary maintenance vehicles needed to keep the park looking good.

Employees and visitors should park across the street. Visitors come to the zoo (and park) to walk all day, asking them to cross the street should be perfectly fine.

So please councilor, keep the park green and open for recreation, and have it resemble Woodward Park more than River Park.

Thank you for you attention.

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