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The Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District board discussed state-funded grants and how to apply for them, and hired MNS Engineers, Inc., an infrastructure consulting firm, for assistance in submitting documents at their March 12 board meeting.

The Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District may soon invite residents to public workshops to define improvements at Philip Marx Central Park, Meadowbrook Park, West Park and a possible community center in Sand Canyon. This will assist the district in applying for new state funding.

“We have to host five grant workshops per grant application,” said Michelle Vance, the district manager. She added, “Whatever comes out of the community meetings, is what we will apply for.”

At its March 12 meeting, the district board unanimously voted in favor of hiring MNS Engineers, Inc., an infrastructure consulting firm, for assistance in preliminary engineering, cost estimates and writing services for state grants.

Each application calls for public comment and separate applications to the state, Vance said. The district will use loan funds obtained in 2016 to pay the $24,600 in engineering fees.

“We don’t have an engineering department, so this is a cost-effective way to be able to get proper cost estimates,” Vance said.

The grant application process starts with three applications to the Proposition 68 Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program, and one application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency.

The top factors to receive funding are the economic situation, total acreage and need for building or expanding a park, said Vance.

Some grants are competitive and awards can range from $200,000 to $8.5 million for this year, with no matching funds required, according to parks.ca.gov.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency grant could pay for 35 percent to 75 percent of a new community center and help rural areas improve cultural and social services, according to meeting agenda documents.

The district must partner with other sponsors to help the projects and Marley’s Mutts, the Salvation Army and the Sand Canyon Volunteer Council are in discussions to partner with the district, said Vance.

Bernice Romo, treasurer and board member of the Sand Canyon Volunteer Council, said in an interview, “We took a survey a couple years ago seeking information on what residents of Sand Canyon wanted and at the top of the list was a community center.”

She added that park meetings held in the future will allow all residents within the district to voice their opinion on what is most wanted in the future.