Schools to Parks — Taking the Chains Off Green Space in South Fresno

Editor’s Note: For four years running now the city of Fresno has come in dead last in the nation when it comes to clean, accessible green space. The issue is especially pronounced in the city’s low-income areas, where access to park space is less than a quarter of what it is in more affluent areas. Community leaders have identified one possible solution that could help close the gap. Together with residents they are urging Fresno Unified School District to make school playgrounds available after hours and on weekends. The kNOw wanted to see what the impact of this proposed mixed-use of schools as parks would be on neighborhoods, so Fernando Guzman Duran, 15, photographed seven schools in South Fresno and mapped them to the nearest park. The results show that opening these spaces to the community will dramatically increase the availability of recreational space. If you want to find out more about park space in Fresno and get involved in community efforts to increase green space for all of Fresno, then join the #Parks4All event this Thursday, August 27 at Yokemi Elementary School at 4:30 p.m.

Photos by Fernando Guzman Duran

Norseman Elementary

NorsemanThe nearest park is Carozzo Park which is 1.4 miles away, or a 28-minute walk. One of the primary factors in measuring green space is access. Parks should be within a 10-minute walk. Carozzo Park is housed in a ponding basin and is a block from Highway 180.


John Burroughs Elementary

BurroughsThe nearest park is mini park Willow/Balch Pocket Park which is 1.3 miles away, or a 25-minute walk. This park is described by the City of Fresno as a “mini park” and has no restrooms.

Heaton Elementary

Heaton The nearest park is San Pablo Family Park which is 0.8 miles away, or a 16-minute walk. This park has no green space and is directly underneath Highway 180.

Hamilton Elementary

Hamilton2 The nearest park is Lafayette Park which is 1.3 miles away, or a 26-minute walk.


Fort Miller

FortMillerThe nearest park is Granny’s Park which is 0.7 miles away, or a 13-minute walk. The park is described by the City of Fresno as a “mini park” and to get to this park from Fort Miller, children would have to cross Blackstone, one of Fresno’s busiest streets.


Lincoln Elementary

Lincoln The nearest park is Frank H. Ball Park which is 0.3 miles away, or a 7-minute walk.



Fresno High

Fresno1Fresno High School. The nearest park is Lafayette Park which is 1.2 miles away, or a 24-minute walk.


Youth Voices

Chonny Vang, 17

“FUSD should open schools so that kids can get the recommended 60-minutes of play everyday. We are last in the nation in green space and opening schools would be a solution. The school’s are financed by our money after all. But Fresno should also maintain the current parks we have. North Fresno has much more park space and equipment than south Fresno.”


Kody Stoebig, 24

“In a city that refuses to build enough parks, opening schools to the community makes perfect sense. The land and equipment is just sitting there and to not use it is wasteful.”


Fernando Guzman Duran, 15

“We should open all the schools in Fresno so that there are places to be active and healthy. This way, young people wouldn’t jump the fence just to play some soccer. We need more green spaces with water and shade since it’s so hot in the summer.”


 Peng Yang, 17

“Because Fresno has a need for green space, schools should open up their gates and allow the community to use the fields and playgrounds. But the city of Fresno also needs to make the existing parks clean and safe.”

Tim Haydock (he/him/his)
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Communication from Fresno Pacific University and a Master’s in Theology and Film from Fuller Theological Seminary, Tim returned to his hometown community in Fresno. He spent over 5 years teaching courses on media production and theory at Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific University and was the academic advisor for the Fresno Pacific University student newspaper.

Tim joined his passions for storytelling, education and social justice in January, 2014 when he started running The kNOw Youth Media in Fresno. In May of 2016, Tim became Director of YouthWire, where he led four youth media programs across the state. In the two years Tim was director, YouthWire printed over 200,000 newspapers distributed in dailies across the state, sent reporters to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, was featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Fresno Bee, KQED and The New York Times’ Race/Related newsletter, and led storytelling training for over 75 youth from at least 12 different communities in California.

Tim currently serves on the journalism advisory board for Fresno City College and was a New America CA 2017 Fellow, the first from the Central Valley.

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