A third community meeting on the proposed $43 million bond measure for the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District focused on proposals for a new recreation facility.

The total cost for both the revitalization of West Park and building a community center would be $31 million out of the proposed $43 million bond measure, according to figures presented at the June 28 meeting.

“One of the things we do talk about and we do use as one of the benchmarks for the decisions being made and the types of spaces that we are talking through is, 'How do these amenities test against revenue production?' said Daniel Matoba, senior associate for Barker Rinker Seacat Architects said. "We do want to make sure we are financially sustainable, that it's a lasting facility, that it's clean, that people can use it all the way into the future.”

Matoba added that the district is looking at the “total project costs,” not just a set price that a contractor is paid to build. This includes permits, transportation, furniture and other fees.

Two plans for possible layout of the facility show areas for a gymnasium, administration building, aerobics, kitchen, multipurpose room, activity pool, child watch room, outdoor lap pool, pickleball, parking of 100 spaces and green space for outdoor sports, Matoba said.

The best location to build the new facilities is West Park, located near West D and Mulberry streets, due to low infrastructure costs, said Ian Steele, vice president of the Board of Directors for the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District.

Infrastructure costs in the city of Tehachapi can be high due to fiber optic, sewer, access to roads, and other fees, added Steele.

“Do we look to buy a new piece of property? What is the best fit and the most central location for all communities that are going to be benefiting from a community center, as well as each one of the parks?” Steele said.

He added, “These are all conceptions at this point. There are no decisions made or any pieces like that. It's us as a community getting together and then putting our heads together to come up with a plan, whether it is feasible or it's not feasible.”

Monthly membership fees would range from $16 to $63 for residents within the district, depending on whether one buys a single membership or buys for a family of six. There would also be options to pay for single visits.

The amount property owners will pay for the bond each year depends on the assessed value of a person’s property as determined by the Kern County Assessors Office. The TVRPD said that, for example, a property valued at $300,000 would cost the property owner $117 in taxes per year.

More than 10 public comments were received at the meeting.

Susanne Forestor, who is retired and lives in the city on a fixed income said, “I think this is over and above what the city of Tehachapi can afford.” She added, “I live there because I can afford to live there.”

Forestor spoke at the platform emphasizing that helping children in the community is a great thing, but for people who have limited means, can’t afford health insurance and have to pay increasing amounts of new taxes for vehicle, gas, and other property taxes, how will they afford to pay for a bond.

Michael Biglay, a Tehachapi resident who is running for Kern County Second District supervisor, said, “You are going to spend more money than you take in, no matter what you build because of your management costs, which are very high." He added that he believes the survey sent out by TVRPD was designed to get answers the district wanted. 

He added, “I ran a survey too. My survey was much different than your survey. I didn’t ask any questions that were guided at any answers, and all I asked was for the $43 million, where do you stand? Yes or no. I got about a 90 percent response no. So at what point are you going to look at this and think it's not going to pass?"

Biglay did not say how many people he surveyed, the time period or how the survey was given and threatened a to bring a lawsuit against the park district in the future.

Others wanted the new facilities to become reality.

“I love to stay here, but if there is nothing for me to do with my children and there is nothing for them to participate in, it's not worth me staying. I might move to another community and I don’t want to, I like it here,” said Theresa Dineen, a resident who lives in the city and has two children.

She added that people who are on a fixed income and ask questions have valid concerns, but people who are raising children might leave in the future if there are hardly any activities for them to do as a family.

Marisa Folse, a Tehachapi resident said, “I spend my day with toddlers and there is nothing for them to do here. Right now I’m planning the summer schedule and I have to go into Bakersfield or go to Palmdale to do anything with them.”

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