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Corey Torres, MPA, is district manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District.

The Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District will host a series of public meetings to gather input for an upcoming grant it plans to seek under the Statewide Park Program.

In June 2018, California voters passed Proposition 68, a $4 billion Parks, Environment and Water Bond Act. Under the act, $395.3 million in Round 4 of the SSP is available to create new parks.

According to District Manager Corey Torres, TVRPD plans to seek some of this grant money in a competitive program aimed at underserved communities across California. 

Last year, during Round 3 of the SSP, Torres said TVRPD applied for a grant to be used for improvements to Meadowbrook Park. However, the request was turned down.

"Since then, I have learned a lot about the application process and what the state is looking for, and so this year, I plan on doing the application differently," Torres said.

Torres went on to say he would not be applying for a grant for an existing park in Tehachapi this year. Instead, he plans to apply for undeveloped land or parcel within the city limits where he hopes to build a new structure.

"The focus is to create a new park and community center," Torres said.

As for the size of the proposed community center, Torres said he is shooting for a building twice as large as the Westpark Activity Center in which to house various TVRPD programs.

"Tehachapi is growing," Torres said. "There is a housing development coming in the next years, and we want to be able to anticipate the needs of families so that we can provide programs that will serve as many people as possible."

But in order to do this, Torres said, he needs the public's input.

TVRPD plans to host a series of public meetings where local residents are encouraged to share their views about what they would like TVRPD to bring to the community.

Public meetings will be at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 and 28, Nov. 10, and Dec. 4 on the corner of Tucker Road and Cherry Lane, which is the project site. On Nov. 16, a meeting will be held at the same location at noon.

On Nov. 4, the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council will host a Zoom presentation at 7:30 a.m.

"We want to ask the public what they want to see in the new park," Torres said. "What kind of features are most important them. I want to encourage them to think about features that don't already exist in any of our current parks so this will be a unique park. It can be something as simple as open space, a pavilion or playground equipment."

According to the district manager, the maximum any city can request under the grant is $8.5 million.

Said Torres, "I don't see us asking for the maximum, but a good chunk. It just depends on what are the priorities that the community decides on."

The deadline for the grant application is Dec. 14. The state will announce grant recipients by the summer of 2021, Torres said.

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