- Train also will be working when Storyland opens
- Playland not scheduled to open until next year
- More than $300,000 raised since new nonprofit was formed
Fundraising for Storyland/Playland has eclipsed $350,000 and officials with the new nonprofit overseeing the parks confirmed this week that they plan to open Storyland on Sept. 4.
The opening of Storyland also will include restarting the train that operates between the two parks.
Playland will not open until next year, and additional work will need to be finished even after Storyland opens, said Bruce Batti, vice chairman of the Storyland/Playland nonprofit.
But, he said, the committee is pleased by the fundraising efforts thus far.
“The community really is engaged,” Batti said. “There is an emotional equity that is making this possible.”
Playland, which opened in 1955, didn’t open this past spring for the first time in 60 years. Storyland, which opened in 1961, also didn’t reopen in the spring.
STORYLAND IS OPENING ON SEPT. 4
The effort to open the parks was buoyed by the Dan Martin Family Foundation, which is matching the first $200,000 donated by the community. So far, Batti said, they’ve collected $162,000 from the community, and are confident they’ll get the rest needed to claim the full match.
He said Martin is a longtime Rotary member who would like the parks to remain open for future generations.
The goal to open both Roeding Park attractions will require raising $850,000 by January, and Batti said others have indicated offering a match similar to the Martin Foundation’s.
“By no means are we out of the woods, but we do know that this is more than feasible,” he said.
Once the parks are open, he said, the nonprofit’s financial plans can ensure they will stay open for years to come.
Community donations matched by the Dan Martin Family Foundation
The train and railroad track are being rebuilt by Hillcrest Tree Farm & Railroad in Reedley. Cement work in Storyland is being done by Ransom Concrete of Fresno. Both are offering their services below cost or between jobs, Batti said.
Having the train ready for September’s Storyland opening will give the parks their largest revenue-generating attraction. The next most-highly used attractions are the carousel and roller coaster in Playland, Batti said.
When Playland reopens, it will have one new attraction and 10 rides for park visitors, he said.
There has been no shortage of volunteer groups from around Fresno County providing sweat equity so the parks can reopen, he said.
BY NO MEANS ARE WE OUT OF THE WOODS, BUT WE DO KNOW THAT THIS IS MORE THAN FEASIBLE.
Bruce Batti, vice chairman of the Storyland/Playland Committee
Inside Storyland, much of the cement work in the park addressing American with Disabilities Act guidelines will be finished when it opens. Volunteers are planting new greenery, laying down bark, painting and cleaning up.
“I’m very confident we will open on time,” said Scott Miller, committee chairman.
The next phase will begin with the cleanup of Playland, he said, which a volunteer group started this week.
In March the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation board agreed to help Storyland and Playland. Under the agreement, the zoo corporation oversees a new board to run the parks, initiate fundraising and even use zoo employees on a donated or reimbursement basis to get the parks operating again.
The parks’ attendance dropped significantly in recent years after peaking at 152,000 in 2011. Efforts to keep prices low for visitors even as attendance and concession sales fell led to the recent financial problems, officials said.
“It’s going remarkably well,” said John Valentino, the zoo corporation board president and a member of the Storyland/Playland board. “I think we’ve made very good progress from getting something done to make the park look substantially better and also from the standpoint of raising $850,000 by January.”
HOW TO HELP
The community can help by contributing at www.savestoryland.com or mail donations to Save Storyland, 890 W. Belmont Ave., Fresno, CA., 93728