Southwest Fresno Residents Meet with Mayor About Impact of Running Horse: KFSN-TV30, Fresno CA, 8/10/07

By Amanda Perez

For the first time since Donald Trump first flew to Fresno to look at Running Horse, hundreds of southwest Fresno residents met face to face Thursday night with Mayor Alan Autry.

They demanded to know what promises the city has made the billionaire and they're concerned over what will happen to their homes.

For now, the Running Horse project still sits in bankruptcy...its future uncertain. But, there is still a lot of fear among homeowners in southwest Fresno, who are afraid of losing their homes to eminent domain.

One unidentified woman says, "This project is going to take everybody's home, so don't be deceived by these little meetings."

It was standing room only as hundreds of people from southwest Fresno demanded answers from city officials. The residents say they're not opposed to the development of Running Horse or Donald Trump. But, they are concerned about what the city offered to get Trump to come in.

Ruthie Clark, Southwest Fresno resident, says, "My concern is for the property owners who might not be able to afford another place."

One by one, people fired questions at Mayor Alan Autry, City Manager Andy Souza, and City Councilwoman Cynthia Sterling. A former city councilmember was one of the few people in attendance who urged others to give them a break.

Les Kimber, Former Councilmember, says, "These people don't need to cut off their nose to spite their face. They need to understand the only way to get this area of town developed is to have a catalyst to do it."

Throughout the night, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry defended his negotiations with the Trump team, telling people the project could bring thousands of jobs to the area and allow people to make a profit on their homes. But, many questioned just how fair market value is in southwest Fresno.

One unidentified woman says, "The price of our home over here is not enough to buy us anything anywhere else in the City of Fresno."

To those skeptics, Mayor Alan Autry made a promise saying he will not support eminent domain unless housing standards from north Fresno are used to determine the selling price.

Mayor Autry says, "I won't support something an eminent domain that isn't going to be a net win for the property owner."

But even with the promise, some say they didn't get enough from city leaders. Debbie Darden of southwest Fresno says, "We got a lot of questions from the Mayor and the City Council, but there were a lot of questions we didn't get answered."

The City Manager tried to calm fears by telling residents a one mile buffer zone around the project is no longer an option and its unknown if Donald Trump will even end up buying this piece of land.

But, many of the residents said they are still afraid eminent domain will come back into the equation.

KFSN-TV30, Fresno CA: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn