The Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District board members unanimously approved submitting Proposition 68 grant applications, while staff provided updates from public meetings and possible future improvements to both West Park and Philip Marx Central Park.
"Right now we are working on site plans and cost estimating," Corey Torres, interim general manager for the district, said during a July 16 board meeting.
The deadline to submit the applications with needed planning documents is Aug. 5. Any awards of the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization program grant funds are slated to be announced around December, said Torres.
Preparation has already been in the works.
The district has hosted more than 10 public meetings for West Park, Philip Marx Central Park and Sand Canyon. More than 30 people have attended. Input taken from oral comments and emails has been received, said Torres.
The district is proposing some final improvements to both parks, if funding is granted and help comes from community partnerships.
“The way it works is you have to have a partnership with a health district, you have to have a nonprofit and it’s based on the income and population of the surrounding areas of the parks, specifically chosen for (Central) Park and West Park," said Ian Steel, board chairperson for the district.
Community partnerships that have joined forces with the district for Central Park are Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley, Tehachapi Unified School District and Marley's Mutts.
Some improvements that are slated include the relocation of the restroom closer to the front of the park, a raised amphitheater, adding an outside gym area, covered areas for the picnic and children’s playground areas and a dog park.
A tree replacement plan by an arborist is in the works.
Community partners who have come on board to help with West Park include Dignity Health, Salvation Army, and the Tehachapi Little League.
Some slated improvements are new lighting for all baseball fields, ADA accessible areas, drainage, replaced outdoor basketball courts, a new skate park, pickleball courts, renovating an existing bathroom and adding a second bathroom.
Another gym area next to the Aspen Builders, Inc. building may also be built with the Tehachapi Church of Christ donating some land to the district on the condition of grant funding, said Torres.
The district is making good progress to receive grant funding.
The consultant firm MNS Engineers was hired to prepare a grant application, which consists of a concept proposal, site plan, narrative description, evaluation questions, cost estimate, required documentation, and other grant writing needs. The cost to define the scope totals $9,940. The district board unanimously approved the agreement at the Jan. 15 regular board meeting.
Proposition 68 grant applications are judged by a point system by the state. If certain types of criteria are met, there is a greater chance to receive funding. More than $37 million is available to help restore and enhance the state’s community and natural resources.
“We have just as much a chance to get them both because of their strength,” said Torres.
Philip Marx Central Park and West Park rank higher than other land owned by the district.
“Not saying we didn’t look at areas in Sand Canyon, or Meadowbrook Park or even Morris Park and the other areas that we own. These two were the high candidates and it put us to the top level of the point scale,” said Steel.
Torres added, “The two important components is the disadvantaged community, which is all income-based and then the park acreage per capita.”