A new pool? A community room with a kitchen? A wedding and event reception area? Dance and spinning studios? These were some questions at Thursday night's Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District public meeting, one of four that will be held through the summer to define the priorities of the community for possible new recreation facilities.
District Manager Michelle Vance said the meeting was held to gain input from the community on a possible new building, find out if existing facilities can be revitalized and how much it will cost. The district is considering floating a bond to pay for improvements, and is figuring out how much voters might be willing to pay.
“I want to talk about our dreams and what we can do with that,” Vance said. She added, “Also I am working on a budget to fix our existing facilities.”
Daniel Matoba, senior associate for Barker Rinker Seacat Architects, spoke to the audience on examples and what it takes to build, maintain and use new recreation facilities. Matoba said there are additional costs for permitting in California, possible new sewer lines, property purchase and fees other than building and designing that have to be considered.
“We are passionate about the community and recreation," Matoba said. "It is not one of the things that we do; it is truly our focus.”
The possible new facilities could be designed with spaces that could be used for multiple purposes and in a cost-effective way.
“When we are talking about all these spaces, we are looking at the building potential," Matoba said.
More than more 150 people who attended the meeting were asked to place dots on diagrams symbolizing their priorities for what they wanted in new facilities — or want they don't want.
Posters with pictures of different facilities were scattered throughout the room at the Aspen Builders Inc. Activity Center at 410 W. D St. There were also questions participants could answer with their own opinions on sticky notes.
The most dots were placed on a new community room where catering could be offered and wedding or retirement parties could be held, a fitness swim area with water aerobics and competitions, a gymnasium, and a gym area for weights, spin classes and other exercise programs.
Some comments on sticky notes from the public included no more taxes, the desire for a bowling alley, and to build or repair tennis courts.
The three questions were: What is your personal favorite place or event you think most exemplifies what is unique about the area? If you had an out-of-town guest come visit, what place or event would you want them to experience that specifically defines what the area is about? What are the unique characteristics about the area that you'd identify are the reasons you live in the area?
The top responses for favorite place were trails, the Tehachapi Mountain Festival, Brite Lake and other open spaces. Many would take a guest to wineries, the annual Mountain Festival, parks, rodeos and museums. Tehachapi residents said the area has a nice temperature, a small-town feel, is quiet and has wildlife, is a good place to raise children, and is a place where kind people live.
Some public comment was voiced during the presentation.
“I like the way you are working this in steps, finding out what the community would really like,” said Mike Dixon, a Tehachapi resident and board president of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District.
Matoba added that if the district decided to build a recreation center, it would take until spring 2021 to design and build it.
Tehachapi resident Steve Townsend said the state of California has a high cost of living and has many regulations and wondered how the company would build a facility within a three-year timeline — especially since Walmart has not been built yet, and the new hospital has not yet opened.
In response, Matoba said it depends again on what needs to be built and the process.
The next public meeting date was not announced, but will be sometime in the next month with a purpose of providing a revitalization update.