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Tuesday, Aug 19 2014 01:10 PM

Golden Hills land committee discusses safety

Safety and security remained the top discussion point at the Golden Hills Land Development Committee on Aug. 7.

All seven committee members and Golden Hills residents alike expressed what should be done to maintain safety and security when it came to recently acquired properties on Golden Star Boulevard, Moon Drive and Woodford Tehachapi Road.

Derelict buildings

A majority of those present said they believe the derelict country club structure on the Woodford Tehachapi property on the site of the old golf course property that the district purchased in May should be a priority.

"I think that building should be our number one priority," said Bud Sargent, a CSD director and committee member.

The building has long been considered an eyesore by Golden Hills residents, especially those who live on Woodford Tehachapi Road or on the of the property, and is considered a safety risk. A metal building for storage and a tennis court, overgrown with weeds, also occupy the property.

Sargent, in proposing that the clubhouse building should be made a priority, noted that there must be three or four contractors in the community who could offer suggestions, whether to tear it down or let the Kern County Fire Department raze the building.

The district has attempted to secure the building by installing chain link fencing, boards and placement of no trespassing signs.

However, Director Ed Kennedy said that appears to have had only a limited impact.

"Of concern to us is the fact that people still feel they want to enter those buildings," Kennedy said during the committee meeting. "We're not sure how to address it, but if they're not there anymore it may be the ultimate solution.

Trent Theriault, president of Tehachapi Mountain Bicycle Association, called the building a massive liability for the district.

"I don't know what to do with it, but you need to get it knocked down as soon as possible," Theriault said.

Terry Scott, a 30-year Golden Hills resident agreed.

"No matter how many signs you put up, it won't matter until you reach the parents of the kids who do that," Scott said. "They are going to tear barricades down every time and it's not going to change until you either tear down the building or make a way where they can't get in."

Committee member Glen Baumann, tasked with heading up a land use subcommittee, commented that a visit he, Kennedy and Bill Fisher, Golden Hills CSD general manager, made to Kern County's engineering and permitting department resulted in little information regarding the buildings.

"They have nothing at this point," Baumann said.

He suggested that the district could arrange a partial viewing for the public of the clubhouse building interior from the outside. He said the interior, from his own experience, isn't salvageable.

"I would like them to see (the interior); that way two years from now when the building is gone, no one is double guessing and saying 'if only they had put $30,000 in that building,'" Baumann said.

Kennedy, the CSD board chair, said an engineer has already gone through the building. In addition, a hazardous material survey is being conducted of the interior for things like asbestos and other health concerns. The reports would likely speak for themselves, he added.

"With the current codes for things like fire sprinklers, the expenses to repair it would be more than it would cost to tear it down and put up a new building," Kennedy said.

General safety

Other concerns that surfaced included the general safety that comes with all three properties, especially since it has become publicly-owned property.

Committee members Mary Beth Garrison, who is also General Manager of Stallion Springs Community Services District, and Don Maben, former Kern County Supervisor, recommended checking with the district's insurance carrier for suggestions, and placing up signs.

"I think, sufficiently, if you put up signs and indications, I don't think you're responsible for (injuries)," Maben said.

Baumann recommended holding off on placing signs based on previous experience with the old land use committee.

"We really don't have any way to police or enforce that, " Baumann said.

Kennedy said he had personally saw no problem with people using the properties.

"I would imagine that anyone using the properties would recognize there are hazards and would be cognizant that there are unsafe areas," Kennedy said.

Scott, the 30-year Golden Hills resident, discouraged the idea of "no trespassing" signs. She added she realizes most of the people using the Woodford property have trespassed for the last 30 years.

"But those people have managed not to kill themselves," Scott said. "This was supposed to be an up-and-coming park for people, so shutting it off is not the answer."

Instead, Scott suggested a possible neighborhood watch to keep an eye on the three properties and report any wrongdoing.

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