Local News

Sunday, Nov 11 2012 03:00 PM

City Council poised to make park, housing project, cul-de-sac decisions

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

The Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday will consider several major items that have been weeks and months in the works, including plans to replace two aging pools at city parks with new amenities and a second installment of affordable housing on Baker Street.

A city council committee has been deliberating since May on how to replace the 1960s-era pools at Siemon and Planz parks with more up-to-date facilities. City planners held community meetings and narrowed down the options to two: demolishing the old pools and building a spray park at Siemon Park in northeast Bakersfield and a skate park and added picnic tables at Planz Park in southeast Bakersfield.

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The Bakersfield City Council meets at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall council chambers, 1501 Truxtun Ave.

The pools at both parks had dwindling attendance when they closed in 2009. City staff said fixing the two pools was not cost-effective. To build a spray park at Siemon Park, plus upgrade one of two restrooms, would cost $550,000. To build a skate park in Planz Park would cost $300,000.

City council members will decide Wednesday night whether to proceed with the plans and whether to get the funding for them started. On the agenda is a decision to transfer $105,000 to the Public Works Department for filling in the pools and designing the new amenities.

Money to build the spray park and skate park would be included in the city's capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2013-2014, according to city documents.

Another major project on the table Wednesday night is a second phase of affordable housing on Baker Street.

Already, 37 low-income units have been built at the corner of Baker Street and Lake Street. The second phase would build at least 40 more units of multi-family housing on the west side of Baker Street between Lake Street and Kentucky Street. The Housing Authority of the County of Kern will carry out the project, but the city has a part too.

Council members will decide whether to contribute land and property worth $150,000 and federal housing money totalling $3.6 million that is allocated to the city. Also, the historic Cornet Building could be rehabilitated as part of the project.

Also Wednesday, council members will consider a resolution that would allow city residents living on the south side of 24th Street between Oak Street and C Street to turn those streets into cul-de-sacs where they intersect with 24th Street on the south side.

The proposal came before the Bakersfield Planning Commission earlier this month after residents approached city administrators about making those changes. The effort is separate from the plan to widen 24th Street, a Thomas Roads Improvement Program project that's produced both vocal opposition and support in neighborhoods north and south of the street.

But while those plans have progressed, some residents on the south side of the street have organized petitions to turn their streets into cul-de-sacs.

The resolution, if the city council passes it, would clear the way for the south-side intersections of Beech, Myrtle, Spruce, Pine, Cedar and A streets with 24th Street to be made into cul-de-sacs. The city would pay for paving and curbing to build the cul-de-sacs, but not landscaping or sidewalks.

All residents on the affected streets who live between 22nd Street and 24th Street would have to agree to the plan, and property owners at the corners with 24th Street would have to donate some of their property for the cul-de-sacs to be built. Intersections at Elm Street, which already has a wall blocking it off from 24th Street, and B Street and C Street would be made into cul-de-sacs with the 24th Street widening plan, if it is approved.

When the idea came before the Planning Commission, many residents spoke in opposition to it, saying the plan isn't fair to residents on the north side and could drive more traffic onto streets south, such as 21st Street. But several others said they supported the plan and that cul-de-sacs would make their streets safer.

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