Local Politics

Tuesday, Feb 12 2013 05:41 PM

Siemon Park spray park, TRIP funding overview before council

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

A new spray park in Siemon Park could be built earlier than anticipated if the Bakersfield City Council votes to accelerate those plans.

At their Wednesday night meeting, city council members will consider whether to skip the standard formal bidding procedure to buy play equipment for the spray park and appropriate $150,000 to buy the equipment.

The city council decided last year to replace the 1960s-era swimming pool at Siemon Park, in northeast Bakersfield, with a spray park. The project was expected to take nine months to a year to build, which would've meant visitors wouldn't be able to use the spray park this summer.

But Councilman Ken Weir, whose represents that area, asked last month if the spray park could be built in time for this summer. Public Works Director Raul Rojas said ordering equipment for the spray park was a factor in the timing of construction. There is only one vendor for wet play park equipment that meets all playground safety regulations, according to a report from Rojas.

Also on the agenda for Wednesday night is funding to move forward with plans to build senior residences at the Mill Creek development.

Those plans call for constructing at least 57 one- and two-bedroom units on the corner of S Street and 14th Street. The apartments would be leased to seniors earning 60 percent or less of median income for that area.

The Courtyard was a redevelopment project, and the dissolution of redevelopment has complicated its progress. Last summer, Chelsea Investment Corp. took over the project with the help of a $4 million contribution from the city in the form of city land and a loan of housing funds.

But $1.2 million of those funds were redevelopment funds that city administrators have argued Bakersfield should keep getting, despite the end of redevelopment. What's before the council Wednesday night is a proposal to transfer that amount from federal affordable housing funds the city receives to the project to fill that gap, if needed.

That would allow the project to be built and allow the city to fulfill its obligation to build a certain amount of affordable housing, according to a report from Community Development Director Doug McIsaac.

The Courtyard is expected to be finished by December 2014, according to McIsaac.

Separately, the council will hear from city staff about financing for Thomas Roads Improvement Program highway projects, including the Centennial Corridor.

Along with federal funds for the projects, the city has to provide some funding as well. City staff will give an update about TRIP financing, including a breakdown of how much money is needed for each project and how much money the city would have to borrow for the projects. They'll also present options for coming up with those funds, such as through bond financing.

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