bike6.jpg

Event coordinator Michelle Vance participates in the Tehachapi Mountain Bike BrewFondo.

Cara Jackson / Tehachapi News

New plans for economic growth and new programs for the community are in the works for the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Parks District.

Michelle Vance, the new district manager, talked about her plans in an interview and how expanding activities will encourage the community to further enjoy public facilities.

“I believe Tehachapi is willing to invest in itself and it takes someone to have that vision,” said Vance.

Goals slated for the parks include improvements at Brite Lake, a possible STEM or community center, helping the Dye Natatorium pool stay open longer and other plans.

Vance said Brite Lake has potential for more activities. She hopes to make Brite Lake a place where swimming is allowed, to put in a sandy beach area, and is coordinating with the Rotary Club of Tehachapi to plant 35 trees in a new camp site area. Also, Vance hopes to place a concession stand at the lake, and offer paddle boats and kayaks for rent.

Improvements already in the works include cleanup of brush and road fixes. In order to attract more visitors to the area, online reservations for camping are planned by the first of the year.

“I’m focusing on Brite Lake because it’s a really good asset for us and it's been overlooked,” said Vance. She added, “I want to grow the revenue and use that to subsidize the pool and it keep it open longer.”

Vance says it’s also about working with and coordinating work from other agencies, sponsors and volunteer groups to keep the district healthy. The district’s budget relies on funds from property taxes and program revenue, but other resources are needed to keep activities thriving.

Plans for improvements are based off a Master Plan Study, taken in 2013, in which the district gathered data from more than 1,000 residents on what activities were successful and what the community still wanted to see. The district has taken this data into consideration and is still formalizing plans.

“It’s about being connected and paying it forward and we have the most giving community I’ve seen. I love being a part of it,” said Vance. She added that being involved in different positions in the community helps her know who to contact for help.

Vance has a degree in public administration and has many years of experience working in community outreach, coordinating events, and strategic planning. She is the secretary for the Tehachapi Tourism Commission, and for the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council, has worked for Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner, the County of Kern and has served on Main Street Tehachapi, helping bring thousands of visitors to downtown.