A few dozen Golden Hills residents received a better grasp of three properties when the Golden Hills Community Services District board of directors provided a brief tour on Aug. 2.
Board Directors Ed Kennedy, Kathy Cassil, and Laura Lynne Wyatt, along with district staff and members of the Golden Hills land development committee led a caravan of cars to properties on Golden Star Boulevard, Moon Drive and Woodford Tehachapi Road.
Both Moon Drive and Golden Star properties were purchased back in January from the Tehachapi Unified School District for a combined price of $482,000, which included 268.85 acre feet of groundwater from Tehachapi Basin to be used by Golden Hills Elementary.
Golden Star property
The Golden Star property is 27 acres, according to Bill Fisher, the district's general manager.
The first property visited, on Golden Star Boulevard, is slated to become the future permanent home of a new Kern County fire station within five years, should funding on the county's part fall into place.
Kern County Fire Department currently operates a temporary, seasonal fire station near the district's office on Reeves Street. It opened on July 1.
Kennedy, the president of the board, noted that the land development committee will deliberate on and recommend make uses for the properties to the full board. The board will make all final decisions.
However, Kennedy, who chairs the land development committee, shared his own personal speculations.
"I can see something associated with the fire station here," Kennedy said. "Maybe Hall Ambulance would want a section next to the fire station, but who knows."
He said other uses could include a low-maintenance basketball court that would benefit residents of the various apartments and single-family residences in the area, or make use of the trail systems.
Fisher, the general manager noted, that a temporary fire station will be in place on two acres as soon as next year. However, the future, permanent station would be built on three acres further back from the roadway. The two acres next to Golden Star Boulevard, he said, would return to the district.
As part of the deal with the fire department, Golden Hills CSD swapped land rights to obtain two acres of property near the Kern County Sheriff's Office substation on Old Town Road.
"It might make for a great pocket park or a bike path coming out of a pocket park," Fisher said.
The purchase of the property was partially a logistical one, as the area is zoned for multi-residential buildings like apartments, according to Kennedy.
"Potentially a developer could have bought it and subdivided it and we would have a lot more residences, which has a impact on our water system," Kennedy said.
Another element coming along the property are the water rights associated with it.
"There are only so many water rights around here and they are gold," Kennedy said.
Moon Drive property
The Moon Drive property, a 16-acre parcel, sits in the middle of a single-family residential area. Bordered by oak trees on the Brite Valley Road side of the properties, and a majority of open space, Kennedy called it a nice purchase.
"It's really a nice piece of property," Kennedy said.
The Moon Drive property was purchased for one of the same reasons as the Golden Star Boulevard property, he said -- development. Most of Moon Drive is zoned residential, so the purchase by the district means a pre-preemptive strike to protect a strain on the water systems.
"Your mind can go to potential park setting or for recreational use," Kennedy suggested.
Woodford Tehachapi property
At a massive 174 acres split between Woodford Tehachapi Road, the namesake property represents the largest purchase Golden Hills CSD has made all year.
The district announced the $874,500 purchase on May 23, and included Tom Sawyer Lake in the deal.
The site was once home to the former Golden Hills country club and golf course, but has remained in disuse for decades.
The country club building remains dilapidated, and until recently, much of the property was reclaimed by natural brush.
Development of the property remains unknown, like the other two pieces of land the district purchased, but one of the main priorities includes the restoration of Sawyer Lake. Currently, the only source of water for the lake is treated effluent from Golden Hills Sanitation Company.
However, the lake evaporates at 40,000 gallons per day, far exceeding the 25,000 gallons of treated effluent dumped into it.
Kennedy said there is a lot of potential for the land, to be discussed at committee level.
"A lot of things are going to be worked out over the next three or four months to get all this working again," Kennedy said. Some of those things include identifying the numerous easements running through the property, ranging from utility and sanitation to recreational and private.
Terry Scott, a 30 year resident of Golden Hills, sees a great deal of potential for the Woodford property.
Scott was one of two people who rolled in on a pony-drawn carriage for the tour of the property, and said she is near the completion of a 3,000 mile "drive" via horse carriage.
"I like it as a wildland park and I would like to see that they don't cultivate all of it," Scott said.
Scott said she has used the property -- with permission from the previous owner -- for years and noted a lot of people who do use it, while it has been used illegally, are respectful.
"People that have used it for the last 10 years or so have been very respectful," Scott said. "I've never met anybody who was a problem on the golf course."
Scott said she has seen many people -- dog walkers, mountain bicyclists, equestrians and hikers -- use the trail and all appeared to have had a mutual respect.
"This is just a beautiful place to be able to use," Scott said.