Local Issue

Please come tomorrow to support The Discovery Center!!

The Discovery Center‘s new 40yr lease will be voted on tomorrow at City Hall during the City Council open session….sometime between 9 and 10am…and we would like a lot of grownups and kiddos there to hoot and holler and give loud thunderous applause when the vote is APPROVED!! (Assuming all goes well, of course.)  That way the City can be encouraged that they are doing the RIGHT THING by allowing us to continue to rent the 6acres of city park that The Discovery Center occupies.

And because of this final happy ending of a VERY LONG drawn out story that I won’t go into…As a result of this vote tomorrow to allow TDC to continue to occupy Reedy Park, TDC is finally going to be able to REBUILD ITS MUSEUM!!! YAAAAAAAAAY!!!

So please arrive at City Hall with as many people (children included!) as you can gather…tomorrow (Thursday June 16) at 9am and if you would like to hold up signs saying things like “We HEART The Discovery Center” or something similar, that would be great!

The Discovery Center is a very important local organization for the children of the Fresno area and I hope lots of people will come out to show their support for its continued existence and future contributions to the hands-on science and nature education of so many local children!

Tina Smith
The Discovery Center Boardmember
Webmama of www.fresnofamily.com
Founder/President of www.fresnolearningvillage.com

So what do YOU think about the Met situation??

I have my own opinions on the current situation with the Fresno Met. But I want to know what YOU think.

Please leave a comment by clicking on the title of this entry to take you to the blog and there you can leave a comment. Or email me privately at webmama_tina(at)fresnofamily(dot)com. (replacing the words in parenthesis with the symbols.)

I am very curious as to what the people of Fresno are thinking about this whole deal. Particularly families with children.

Let's help out Storyland!!

Storyland is a really wonderful resource here in the Central Valley, where we really don’t have a lot of things for our children…Really, if you look at the list of places created for children in Fresno specifically, the list is pathetically small, in comparison to other cities in California similar in size.

I mean, why is it that we don’t yet have a children’s museum?

How come we have to drive to Oakhurst or Visalia to take our children to a children’s museum??? Boggles the mind.

Fresno is definitely in dire need of some help in the child-friendly department, that’s for sure! I hope to see lots of changes in the coming years…

But since I’m not one to sit around and wait for someone, hopefully, to make changes…I’ve decided to do what I can to create some of those changes I would like to see happen. Starting with Storyland, which I see as having great potential and obviously once was a very fabulous place for children (and in many ways, still is!!)…and this is a place that is actually doing a LOT right now to improve its facility and make itself better.

But they need OUR help! There are a LOT of repairs and improvements that are needed at Storyland right now. They do have things happening…but I want to help by taking on a small project. One project that Fresno Family can take on for Fresno’s children.

I’ve been in touch with Barry Falke, the executive director at Storyland and Playland…and I’ve decided that Fresno Family (yes, the website, and the community that enjoys it) will take on the Hansel and Gretel exhibit.

This is one of my family’s favorite parts of Storyland…especially since its the only place in the area you can still play on a playground merry-go-round!!

I wanted to get some local businesses to donate materials but I am horrid at getting around to making the calls…and I struck out everywhere I tried so far.

So I’m going to try something different…I’m going to go to you, the families of Fresno!

I want to collect supplies (or money to purchase the supplies) to repair the Hansel and Gretel exhibit.

What we need:

  • Exterior paint: 2-4 gallons of white, 1 gallon of every color of the rainbow (for repainting the house, the characters, the fence, the merry-go-round, the sign, and anything else that needs painting in Hansel and Gretel).
  • Sand to fill about 25ftX25ftX6in deep (its ok if we get more than needed, there’s other places around Storyland that needs sand as well.)
  • Wood slats for fence to repair/replace–we may need to redo the whole fence, to make it look consistant.
  • Some concrete (a few bags maybe? for setting the fence posts again)

Please contact me at webmama_tina AT fresnofamily DOT com (taking out the spaces and making an @ and a . ) if you have any of these to donate to this project, or if you would like to donate money to purchase the supplies. I would like to get working on this project ASAP…my goal being to get the exhibit revamped before they open again in the spring. (Of course, weather is going to be a factor, but I can at least gather supplies and get things done when the weather cooperates and coordinates with my schedule and that of my helpers.)

If a business donates materials to the project, I would be happy to include their business name on the “Sponsored by” sign.

Thank you for reading this far and I hope to hear from many of you soon! :)

UPDATE ON MALL SECURITY ISSUE

I got a call today from someone from Fashion Fair Mall security and was assured that the store clerks were NOT correct in saying that security “won’t come”…he suggested that they may be confusing the issue with the fact that they are responsible for their own property and while security will assist them, they do not solve the issues for them…I took this to mean things like shoplifters, maybe?

Anyway I made sure that he understood that I am VERY concerned about the children in the play area and that it seems that they need extra security to be regularly posted at that spot to ensure the children’s safety. He told me they would be beefing up their security and that when I return to shopping there I will notice a difference. Since I’m not at the mall very often, I would appreciate anyone that visits there let me know by commenting here if you notice security (or not). Please let us know what you see.

He said the incident that my mom was a part of was handled and the juveniles in question (he said one was 17 and one was 18) had their parents called and they’ve been banned from visiting the mall for 6months. I don’t know how much of this coincides with what my mom witnessed…I do realize interpretation has a lot to do with things…and my mom’s saying it was a “gang fight” could very well have been a misinterpretation. Everything does tend to seem bigger when you’re in the middle of it, I think. This person I talked to made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, but would he even if it was? I don’t know. So I really don’t know anything first-hand…just what I’m hearing.

I can say that I felt much better after talking to him. Maybe I’m naive but I tend to trust what people tell me…So if he says that security will be improving, then I assume it will be happening. It remains to be seen still, so please do give your feedback here if you notice anything noteworthy on this.

CALLS ARE BEING MADE

Myself and some of my fellow local mommies are making calls to the mall and to local media to bring attention to this matter. I haven’t yet gathered the info tidily in one place, but when I do I’ll post here for others to use if they would like to also join us. For now, just use the phone book…That’s what i’m doing.

Let me make sure that I’m very clear that I am not trying to demonize the mall or security at Fashion Fair…I’m sure they have a tough job to do and Fresno has plenty of problems for them to contend with, particularly with juvenile (and not so juvenile) delinquents and gang issues and such.

I think the mall has done amazing things as far as the atmosphere and the beauty of the place these days…I think its great that they have upgraded so much and more stores are going in! Unfortunately, the riff-raff apparently also seem to enjoy the changes.

It’s a concern to me that violent incidents like this happen at all…But of course that’s the reality of life in fresno (in america, well, the world!) what concerns me the most is the comments from the store clerks (2 of them at 2 separate stores, on 2 separate days) that security doesn’t come. And that their comments make it sound like this is a regular occurence.

It is incomprehensible to me that security isn’t super strict, particularly since there WAS a knife fight incident in 2005 (right next to the children)…If nothing else that should have made it very clear that there is a great potential for a major incident. Thank goodness no one was actually hurt. But if they are truly lax with their security (which I still am gathering info on, so I don’t really know for sure), then they are bound to eventually have an actual injury, or worse, of a innocent bystander. And apparently the riff-raff do not care about the safety, physical OR emotional, of children…Since both incidents that I know about happened right next to the children’s play area.

This is NOT acceptable. and I hope that those of you reading this feel the same way. It is unacceptable to have a public place where parents cannot count on security to do all they can to keep the riff-raff OUT in the first place, and to keep our children safe (along with us, of course).

There should be some sort of prevention happening…Shadowing of the gangs of kids that like to hang out at the mall…(Incidentally, this week’s incident did not appear to be teens…My mom says they looked in their 20s.)…And particularly keeping a very close eye on the kids play area.

I know that after the 2005 incident that there WAS a great showing of security at the play area…Even to having someone keeping the big kids out (since they don’t belong there and can hurt the littles that the play area was designed for)…But somehow that seems to have faded away. I was told yesterday by someone that there is new management at the mall. I’m guessing she meant since the 2005 incident. I don’t know if this is true or not, but perhaps old management didn’t share with new management about the knife incident? I don’t know.

And another aside…I realize I’m making a big deal out of TWO incidents…but those are just the ones I KNOW about! I imagine many more have probably happened…Particularly since the store clerks seem so disillusioned with security’s response.

I welcome input on this situation and hope that we can continue to have a discussion on this and get something done. I like fashion fair mall. I do not want to feel I cannot shop there because its unsafe for my children.

MORE INFO TO BE DISTURBED ABOUT REGARDING FASHION FAIR MALL

A friend of mine was at the mall this weekend and witnessed a store clerk chasing down some shoplifters. After retrieving her stolen goods, when a concerned customer asked if he should call security, she said “Don’t worry I got it all and don’t bother with security, they won’t come anyway”.

Does Fashion Fair have some seriously lax security or are these isolated incidents? If you have info on this, please share here by leaving a comment on this entry.

TIME TO FEEL UNSAFE AT FASHION FAIR MALL AGAIN

I don’t know if you remember me posting in Aug 2005 about a knife fight incident at Fashion Fair mall. Right next to the children’ play area. (Recap: Knife was pulled during a fight, right next to the play area, children nearby, moms grabbing kids and running…and security didn’t show til after it all cleared up. A friend of mine was right there and first hand witness…she was one of the moms running with her kids…and I got word from another mom in another mom’s group that also was there, same story.)

Well today there was a fight between 2 (presumably) rival gangs…AGAIN right next to the children’s play place. And no security. Again.

My mom witnessed this incident this afternoon around 2pm (actually she was unfortunate enough to walk between the 2 groups just as they started lunging at each other & all hell broke loose.) and she ran into The Body Shop yelling for them to call security. She was told “they never come.” And as of the time my mom left the mall, there was still no security and the fight was dissipating.

This infuriates me and scares me beyond belief. I’m back to not feeling safe at the mall again. My children will not be taken there anytime soon and I would encourage all of you to be very cautious should you decide to go. The comment by the Body Shop worker makes me feel like this happens regularly. I don’t know this for a fact, but it makes me feel like there’s no way in hell that my children will be setting foot in that mall again anytime soon.

I’m absolutely livid about this.

If my daughter had been with my mom (as she often is) she would have seriously been traumatized. I’m not even exaggerating this point because my daughter is excruciatingly sensitive and even little things hurt and scare her. I KNOW she would have been damaged had she been caught in the middle of something like that. Not to mention that there’s the chance of actual bodily harm when stupid people are being stupid.

I’m in search of who to write to about this, again. For now, be warned.

Good news!

I recently received the below exciting email from the director of Storyland and Playland, in response to my post below:

I read your post on the home page and sensed your discouragement. I wanted to write to encourage you that Fresno is certainly a place where people are taking seriously the idea that we need more things
for our children.

I am so pleased to say that Storyland & Playland just opened this weekend for our 2008 season and I think that while we have a long way to go, I am so pleased that we are opening in 2008 4 new MAJOR new attractions for the families of our valley. The most exciting is a FREE TO THE PUBLIC splash park opening in the center of Playland this Memorial Day called “Splash Junction.” This is a $190,000 investment not only into Rotary Playland but the families of our valley. Above that Alice’s Birthday Courtyard is getting a $120,000 remodel and makeover and in the next few weeks Playland will be opening “Shipwreck Cove” a new pirate themed boating adventure on Lake Washington and a
new Tilt-A-Whirl. In total over $400,000 in new attractions and improvements are coming to Storyland & Playland this year. On top of all that, over $35,000 in fresh paint has covered Rotary Playland.

I did also notice you mentioned the ramp up to the big ferris wheel (Big Rocko) at Playland in your post. I am not sure if you know or not but that ramp was destroyed and completely rebuilt in January
2007. It was rebuilt with metal and is covered with beautiful redwood thanks to the Carpenters Union here locally.

I want to encourage you that Fresno is on the verge of BIG THINGS!! At Roeding Park alone, a new master plan is just being completed that will almost double the size of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo as well as
Storyland & Playland. In the next 12 years you will see MAJOR changes in Roeding park.

I am excited that we are actively pursuing projects like a miniature golf course in the park and adding an authentic .75 acre Native American cultural center and village to the North of Storyland.

We are striving to create parks that the Central Valley will be proud of. I would love to sit with you and show you the Master plan and share with you the many new attractions that will be coming in the
years to come!! And that’s just Roeding Park.

Lastly, we do now have a website at www.storylandplayland.com I would love to make our listing a live link. We also have what I believe to be some really affordable birthday packages at the parks.

DON’T LOSE HOPE!! THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Barry Falke
Executive Director
Rotary Storyland & Playland

Is Fresno Child Friendly or UNfriendly?

My below letter I wrote makes me think: “Seriously…What’s WRONG with Fresno? Why can’t it maintain quality programs for children?”

Do you have a theory? I actually could continue to add to the above list…Sea Angels recently went under…awhile back there was a gymnastics place called Jungle Gym or something like that I think…Seems like there was another gymnastics place too that I’m forgetting…and a few art programs…

I wonder what keeps places like Pump it Up alive (presumably…who knows? Maybe they’ll be going under next?) and kills other places? (Incidentally, Pump it Up is AWESOME! And I’m glad that there are 2 locations now…but they only have open bounce time at specific days/times and my daughter is now too old for them!)

I know Zany Brainy and Discovery Zone went bankrupt at the corporate level, so hopefully that means it didn’t have anything to do with Fresno. But still!

It’s so dang frustrating, don’t you think? That Fresno has so little for our children?

On any given day, where can you take your kids? Certainly the zoo, but how many times in a row can you go there? Storyland/Playland are possibilities but both are GREATLY in need of so much repair and attention…Luckily the kids don’t seem to care or even notice, but as a parent, I really worry about things like the ramp on the way up to the big ferris wheel that is a death trap and have never been particularly impressed with Storyland but I guess I don’t have the connection to it since I didn’t go there as a child. (I’m not a native Fresnan.)

Parks are options but during the heat of summer they are downright dangerous since most have very little shade (I know the city is SUPPOSED to be working on this but how long is THAT going to take?)…and as we all know, heat is a large part of our year! How friggin ridiculous that the city didn’t plan for this when they made the parks in the first place! Certainly they don’t think of our children. They thought of the parents, though…there’s shade for the parents watching the kids…but nothing over the play structures! What does that tell you?

Is Fresno UNchild-friendly? I feel like it is!

Am I frustrated? You betcha! With kid stuff dropping like flies around here and not a whole heckuva lot of quality available to just drop in on on a whim…you have to be part of the program and pay an arm and a leg for anything of any real quality.

I’m VERY grateful for places like Young at Art and Gymnastics Beat, which seem to, luckily, be hanging in there and doing well and hopefully will be around for years to come…but not everyone can afford their programs and neither are places for just dropping in on. Well, actually, come to think of it Young at Art now has open studio hours and Gymnastics Beat might have an open gym time, but not sure.

But we need MORE!!! MUCH MUCH MORE!!! We need indoor playgrounds and children’s museums and parks that are completely covered in shade and all kinds of places that we can take our kids to that are quality experiences that we can drop in on even if we don’t have a membership!

I’m so sad and dismayed every time a kid related business closes in Fresno!

Aren’t YOU??

Local aquarium needs your help!

Please forward this email to all your Fresno County friends!

Fresno County’s Cooperation Needed
Supervisors Need to Hear From You!

This week, City of Fresno Planning Director, Nick Yovino, sent a letter to Bart Bohn, Fresno County’s Chief Administrative Officer, outlining the reasons the county should agree to allow the 10-acre aquarium property and the 79 acres surrounding it north of Herndon Avenue to become part of the city’s Sphere of Influence (SOI).

This agreement is necessary so the city can apply to LAFCo to receive approval for the aquarium to extend city water and sewer lines out to its property.

Until this extension receives LAFCo approval, the aquarium cannot obtain the permits necessary to continue preparation of the land for the future facility – not even a grading permit!

We need every Fresno County resident reading this to call, write or email their County Supervisor right away and tell them to direct Bart Bohn to write a letter agreeing to let the city expand its SOI to include the aquarium property and the property around the the aquarium. By including all 89 acres, the aquarium won’t be a “city island” and there will be a logical boundary (Herndon Avenue) between the city and county.

If you don’t know who your supervisor is, please go to the county’s web site:
County of Fresno – Board of Supervisors

Here’s my letter:

My name is Tina Smith and I live in your district. I am writing today to ask you to direct Bart Bohn to write a letter agreeing to let the city expand its SOI to include the aquarium property and the property around the the aquarium.

We’ve been waiting a VERY LONG TIME to see this aquarium come to fruition. Please help this along and help Fresno finally bring in a much needed fun, educational resource to our children. I’m disappointed and greatly dismayed on a regular basis by how few child related businesses make it in Fresno. All our favorites continue to go out of business on a regular basis…Nature’s Realm, a nature store…Discovery Zone, play place for kids…Zany Brainy, educational toys/games…Pegasus Books, an educational book store…Gymboree, play experiences for young children…Music Together, music experiences for the very young…and on and on and on…There are very few things for families with young children to go to in the Fresno area to bring our children for a fun and educational experience. We need this aquarium. BADLY. Please help.