May 2013 UPDATE: The City of Fresno and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo have submitted two binders full of plans for the zoo's expansion onto the original 1903 donation land for Roeding Park to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Office of Grants and Local Services (OGALS). This has been done in complete secret without any public notice or sharing of the plan's details online or anywhere else. The Friends of Roeding Park expect OGALS to forward this plan to the National Park Service offices in San Francisco for review and possible approval or denial. If you want your voice to be heard, we suggest flooding the OGALS office with your emails.
Read our 6/29/11 Letter and attachments A, B and C addressing new and significant information introduced at and following the close of the public comment portion of the Fresno City Council's EIR hearing, our 6/21/11 Letter to the Fresno City Councilon the Final EIR and our 6/6/11 Comment Letter on the City's Recirculated Draft EIR for the Chaffee Zoo expansion. All three detail why the EIR as passed is incomplete and not legally sound.
Because the files are so large, here are the attachments for the 6/6/11 letter: A, B, C, D, E, F,G1, G2, H
In addition to opposing the Fresno Chaffee Zoo expansion, more and more Fresno voters oppose the conversion of Roeding Park land from outdoor recreation uses to indoor Zoo Restaurant, Event Center and Zoo animal Exhibit buildings as well as the planned demolition of 811 trees, most of which are century-old mature shade trees, picnic areas, sports field, state-funded dog park, the fishing (lily) ponds and numerous other much-loved classically-landscaped public Roeding Park features today enjoyed annually by 1+ million citizens of all socio-economic backgrounds. These features simply cannot be adequately replicated anywhere else in Fresno.
A letter to the editor in The Fresno Bee 11/2/2010:
I was shocked upon seeing in The Bee the area the proposed zoo expansion would cover. It would consume most of the green space. The zoo can only be visited a few times a year at most. For families on the south end of Fresno who have little income, several children and no yard space, they need a place to run, picnic and fish every week if they wish.
North Fresno has Woodward Park. If the Chaffee Zoo has $10 million to spend, put the large animals out there.
A letter to the editor in The Fresno Bee 11/4/2010:
We have been Chaffee Zoo members for 12 years. Even so, we disagree with the proposal to expand the zoo. What we oppose is the encroachment and disregard for the rest of the park.
If the zoo has so much money, buy land and relocate. A zoo can be anywhere. It does not need to be at Roeding Park to attract busloads of school children. If they made half an effort, they could probably find a donor who would give the 39 acres zoo planners seem to desire.
The park is a treasure on its own. Almost everyone who grew up in Fresno has fond childhood memories and loves to share it with their own children and grandchildren.
How many people remember events at the amphitheater that has now been swallowed by the zoo? Will it swallow the whole park? There is only one Roeding Park, and the zoo board seems oblivious to its history.
The people of Fresno ought to have a chance to vote on this issue.
Follow the link below to hear audio from the 7/28/2010 meeting of the Fresno County Zoo Authority as they deny Fresno's Chaffee Zoo Corp's request for a $9.45 million advance for a new Seal and Sea Lion Exhibit until after the Fresno City Council's certification of the Draft EIR detailing the destructive takeover of the majority of Roeding Park for the commercial benefit of the zoo, Playland and Storyland. The zoo came to the meeting without any environmental documentation whatsoever.
It has been nearly 9 years since the Measure Z sales tax was passed by Fresno County voters in 2004 as the only way to repair and restore the Chaffee Zoo (see their teary-eyed elephant campaign sign, left). Unfortunately, the people now responsible for the taxpayer's money have chosen to spend it on plans, studies, lawyers and consultants and let literally millions pile up in an account rather than spend it to significantly improve the daily lives of the elephants and other animals they told us were in such terrible trouble.
The reason they give is that it has taken more time than expected to get their ambitious expansion plans approved. But, these business-savvy people must have known back when they were pushing the urgency of "saving the zoo" that it always takes far longer and much more expense for exhaustive studies and consultants to gain approval for an expansion into an historic park and arboretum than it takes to fix what they already had. They have put the cart far in front of the horse.
These are the same people who told the voters that the AZA would pull the zoo's accreditation if they didn't get the tax money immediately to fix the zoo. Yet, with no real changes to date, other than animal deaths and shipping others off to L.A., the AZA keeps on extending the zoo's accreditation.
Everything the "No on Z" campaign said in 2004 has come to pass and the City's adoption of the fatally-flawed EIR confirms the massive takeover of Roeding Park by commercial interests that was denied over and over again by The Fresno Bee, the Mayor of Fresno and zoo proponents like Pelco's David McDonald during the campaign.
Park was donated to the City of Fresno in phases starting in 1903 by
Frederick and Marianne Roeding for the purpose of a public park and as
a demonstration arboretum designed by Johannes Reimers, a botanist of worldwide reputation, and planted by their son, George C. Roeding, a horticulturist of international fame and the City of Fresno's first Parks Commissioner.
Having grown large over the past
100 years, the majestic, well-planned groves of big trees at Roeding
today offer shady, often crowded gathering places for diverse families
from central Fresno neighborhoods seeking free respite from the Valley
heat - a place for picnics, quinceañas and weddings; children running
free; spontaneous and organized soccer and volleyball games and coolers
filled with cool beverages, snacks and BBQs.
Although a zoo has
existed in the park to some degree since the early years, today the zoo
is planning to expand across the entire southeastern section of the
park (into the original 1903 donation land) nearly all the way to
Golden State Boulevard - destroying hundreds of majestic trees that have stood for over 100 years. See Zoo's Proposed Master Plan.
Bust of George C. Roeding, the man who created Roeding Park may be seen beside the zoo administration office just inside the Belmont Ave entrance.
Kids fishing in these ponds will soon not be allowed.
fountain pictured at the top of this page, groves of historic century-old trees from around the world, the historic fishing ponds, large
fields, the horseshoe pits and numerous picnic table areas & the
Palm Point Picnic Shelter will be lost to the public forever when these areas are converted to zoo uses.
Pathetic proposals by the City and the zoo to replace the historic ponds with relocated smaller versions and plant tiny trees to replace those that will be chopped-down should be rejected by the citizens of Fresno if there is any pride of history remaining! Large Safari Park-type animals such as elephants, giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, lions, hippos, tigers, bears, zebras, and rhinoceros need many more acres than Roeding Park can ever provide. Let's keep a first-class Children's Zoo in the park and find another site with acreage for the big animals like other cities, such as San Diego, have done.
Please check back here often as new information will be added.
If you would like to get involved, please let your friends know about the zoo's expansion plans and send us an e-mail so we may add you to our ever-growing confidential list of the Friends of Roeding Park:
Friends of Roeding Park have retained attorney Richard L. Harriman and the prestigious law firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger of San Francisco to represent the interests of the Fresnans who use and enjoy the Park during the zoo's expansion attempt. If you would like to make a donation to the legal defense fund in memory of Peter Roeding Butler, who fought strongly to save Roeding Park by participating in a lively debate which aired on KVPR FM89.3 in Fresno in 2004, please mail your check in any amount payable to: Mr. Bruce B. Roeding, P.O. Box 2278, Fremont, CA 94536. Donations to this fund are not tax deductible.