Terance Frazier and City Hall are once again teaming up to do good things for Fresno.
The City Council has approved a deal that gives a Frazier-led nonprofit preferential scheduling rights to ball fields at a city-owned park in Southeast Fresno.
In exchange, Frazier will spend tens of thousands of dollars annually on field maintenance and helping some of the city’s poorest youngsters.
We’re talking about a transformation at Al Radka Park for at least the next two years, and quite possibly decades to come.
“Absolutely,” said City Manager Bruce Rudd when asked if deal is good for Fresno.
Parks Director Manuel Mollinedo said Frazier’s “goals for helping kids and my vision for helping kids are pretty much in sync. We’re talking about developing other partnerships, as well.”
Frazier, 47, is the former Fresno State baseball standout who played four years of Minor League baseball before embarking on a successful career as a Fresno-area developer.
For example, Frazier and Mehmet Noyan plan to build a high-rise at the south end of Fulton Corridor, a key project in City Hall’s effort to revitalize downtown.
He’s also a philanthropist of growing renown. The Al Radka deal, given the green light by the council on Jan. 7, is with the Central Cal Baseball Academy. This Fresno-based nonprofit uses athletics to help youngsters build a firm foundation of life skills. The academy is for all youngsters, but its focus is on at-risk youth.
Frazier is Central Cal’s president.
“What we’re trying to do is teach them about more than sports,” Frazier said. “We want to teach them about life, about being a better person, about the importance of education.”
The Al Radka deal is only one piece in a bigger effort to make Fresno a better city, Frazier said.
But there are three other aspects of the Al Radka deal that make it newsworthy.
First, it’s another example of the city-nonprofit arrangement that over the last five years has dramatically changed the way Fresno handles parks services.
Second, Frazier had a special ally sitting next to him when he and Mollinedo battled over the Al Radka deal – Paul Swearengin, chairman of Central Cal’s board and husband of Mayor Ashley Swearengin.
Third, the notion of “transparency” and “full disclosure” in the reporting of public affairs is changing fast in the Internet age.
Thank you for the column George. You are absolutely right to be concerned about a potential conflict of interest in this situation. Any outsider looking at something like this involving the Mayor’s husband would think there was shenanigans.
That being said, I know both Mr. Frazier and Mr. Swearengin. I can say with as much certainty as I have that this is a from the heart project for both. I have not met or know two better people in my life. I know Terrance and Paul are community based individuals that I would have no question trusting with my own kids and property. I am envious of both with respect to their honesty and sincerity. I can only hope and pray to be considered their peer. I know that sounds like lofty praise, but like I said I know them both. I have seen them in situations where doing the “right thing” was the only thing considered. This opportunity is great for Fresno youth. Terrance has proved his commitment to Fresno 100 times over. He walks the walk in all that I have seen him do.
You are right to ask the questions. The lost art of journalism depends on you doing so. Shining a light on the project should not be an issue.