Centennial Corridor

Thursday, Mar 07 2013 06:10 PM

Residents holding yard sales to fuel fight against freeway

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

Westpark residents are planning more than a dozen yard sales this weekend to bring people into the area that will potentially be bisected by the Centennial Corridor freeway, if it's built.

The freeway project, the biggest undertaking of the Thomas Roads Improvement Program projects for Bakersfield's roadways, would take down about 200 houses in its path, mainly in the Westpark neighborhood southwest of California Avenue and Highway 99.

It would extend Highway 58 west and link it to the Westside Parkway and eventually to Interstate 5. Construction, if Caltrans decides to build it, would start in 2015. The city would buy homes in the freeway's path and would help people with relocation costs.

But in the meantime, a group of residents, the Westpark Homeowners Association, has vowed to fight the project, and the yard sales will be one of its tools.

There are at least 15 separate yard sales planned in the neighborhood, said Greg Hogan, one of the organizers. Another dozen or so residents have donated items to sell, he said.

Although the homeowners group has vowed to launch a legal fight against the California Department of Transportation, raising money for legal costs is just a secondary purpose for the yard sales, Hogan said.

"Our main objective is to invite the people of Bakersfield to Westpark and see what kind of neighborhood it is and get people to be a part of our fight" against the freeway plans, he said.

"It's just to promote awareness (about) what a nice community we have in Westpark. We have a great park, great churches ... It's not a place for a freeway to be put."

Hogan and his family live on La Mirada Drive, and their home would be bought and demolished if Caltrans' preferred route for the project is built. He said his 10-year-old daughter, Mayaince, came up with the idea for the yard sales.

"She was very upset when she heard our house was going to be taken away," he said. "So she thought about ideas of how we can promote the neighborhood and came up with the yard sale idea."

Amy Richardson, another member of the homeowners group, agreed that showing people the value of Westpark is the goal of the yard sales. Richardson doesn't stand to lose her house with the project, but she'd be about a block away from the freeway if the preferred route is built.

"The main purpose is so people can come into the neighborhood," she said. "(It's) for them to just see the neighborhood and the quality of the neighborhood and to understand why we love our neighborhood, why we find it so valuable."

The yard sales are planned for homes on La Mirada Drive, Perris Way, Charter Oaks Avenue, Kentfield Drive, Marella Way and North Stine Road. They're set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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