Fresno

Fresno lawmakers set for Granite Park showdown after insurance dust-up

Following a heated media push in recent weeks by a pair of Fresno City Council members, the entire panel will take a hard look at the on-going controversies surrounding its troubled east-central Fresno sports park and its operator, developer Terance Frazier.

Last week, Fresno City Council members Garry Bredefeld and Mike Karbassi claimed that Frazier – the chief of nonprofit Central Valley Community Sports Foundation (CVCSF) – was no longer in compliance with his contract to operate the sprawling sports park along Highway 168.

Monday morning, Fresno City Council members are set for a wide-ranging examination of its various controversies related to Frazier paired with a detailed look at its insurance requirements for contractors operating city-owned assets.

During a Wednesday press conference, Bredefeld and Karbassi unearthed an email from the city’s insurance coverage counsel to a lawyer for Frazier’s nonprofit, regarding an apparent lack of insurance.

According to the pair, CVCSF’s insurance coverage did not adequately indemnify the city of Fresno from casualty liability given its serving of alcohol on-premises.

“CVCSF has not procured insurance as required by the Granite Park contracts. These failures are serious and constitute material breaches of the contract requirements. The City agreed to provide a conditional use permit but required insurance to protect the City from the increased exposure associated with the furnishing, sale, and distribution of alcohol,” wrote city lawyer James Wilkins to Frazier’s legal team.

“CVCSF has failed to comply with material terms of its contracts with the City. The City has made it clear that CVCSF must immediately cure these breaches. In the meantime, no furnishing, sales, or distributions of alcohol at Granite Park are allowed.”

Frazier told media outlets that the City of Fresno has required an additional rider to his insurance coverage that “has taken more time than expected.”

City officials, however, say that the total dispute centers on basic insurance coverage. That includes Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, who said he was done with Frazier’s operation of the park.

“I can tell you if that authority did rest with my administration, that action would have already been taken,” Dyer said on Wednesday. “We have done everything that we possibly can within my administration to work with the folks at Granite Park, to work with Mr. Frazier, to do everything we can to allow his operations to be successful. Unfortunately, it appears that there is some something that is preventing them from being able to stay current on their insurance, something that has prevented them from staying current on paying their bills. The main concern for us is the fact we are allowing someone to operate on that property and exposing the city of Fresno to unnecessary liability.”

Friday, Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza authorized an emergency Fresno City Council meeting to discuss three items.

The first is a review of lease agreements between the City of Fresno and entities operating at the following city-owned locales:

  • Chukchansi Park (Fresno Sports and Entertainment, LLC)
  • Kocky’s Bar and Grill
  • Chandler Executive Airport’s Flight Line Cafe
  • Picadilly Inn Fresno Airport and its Steak & Anchor Restaurant (RCB Equities)
  • Granite Park (CVCSF)

The second is a discussion of an on-going Federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Frazier against the City of Fresno claiming discrimination over the release of a 2018 audit into CVCSF’s operation of Granite Park.

And lastly, a discussion of whether the City of Fresno should initiate litigation against Frazier’s CVCSF. The reason for the potential to initiate litigation, however, is unknown.

All of the items set for discussion are to-be-conducted in closed session, Fresno’s agenda reads.

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.