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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

Ambitious Measure R -- big plans for recreation

The Forde Files No. 177


October 27, 2018

Tina Fisher Cunningham

Laura Lynne Wyatt, chairperson of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District board .

Extensive information on the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District Measure R $43 million revitalization bond proposal is available on the website. Arguments for and against the measure as well as the full text are in the Kern County sample ballot.

The proposed revitalization would bring $1.3 million in improvements to Brite Lake (the district's biggest revenue producer), $1.3 million to Meadowbrook Park, $500,000 to Central Park, $4 million to West Park, $8 million to undeveloped Morris Park (which would include a five-field baseball/softball complex) and $27 million for a recreation center to be built on Rec & Park-owned property at West Park. The recreation center would feature a senior lounge, kitchen, meeting rooms, child watch area, dance studio, gym, fitness area and two pools that include a waterslide, lazy river and training lanes.

The District is constrained by law from spending public money to promote passage of the measure. Opponents have posted large signs and sent glossy mailers urging a "no" vote. The measure needs a 2/3 "yes" vote to pass.

Opponents assert that the measure is an irresponsible use of taxpayer funds and that the impact of additional property taxes would create a hardship for those on fixed incomes, that rental prices would rise, that families would pay additional funds to use the facilities and, with Stallion Springs and Bear Valley Springs outside the Rec & Park assessment district, not enough households are being asked to pay for the measure.

Some opponents say they would endorse a less ambitious measure in the $10 million range – a new pool, perhaps, with a senior center and gym later. Proponents, on the other hand, say that separate facilities are a wasteful use of taxpayer money.

"You need three sets of staff. Three managers, one for each facility," Rec & Park board chairperson Laura Lynn Wyatt said. "The trend all over the country is to get it all under one roof. There's cost recovery. The staff stays the same."

The measure would cost property owners $39 per $100,000 of assessed value annually, or $3.25 a month. Assessed value is lower than market value. The average home market price in Golden Hills, Wyatt said, is less than $190,000. Rounding that up to $200,000, the annual tax for the improvements would be $78.

Part of the proposed rec center would be accessible for free. Fees would be charged for use of other areas to pay lifeguards, fitness instructors and child care attendants. Annual family packages for up to six people are planned.

Proposed fees would include youthdiscount passes ($16/month for residents who live within the TVRPD boundaries; $21/month for non-residents; adult $30/month, senior $20/month and family $63/month).

As people stopped at the Rec & Park booth at the recent Apple Fest, Wyatt said, "There were a lot of questions and a lot of positive feedback. The boys were excited about a new skate park."

Photos on the TVRPD website show the worn condition of many of the district's facilities. The largest age group in the district is 5-19, at 18 percent.

Supporters say that Measure R improvements and new construction would increase the value of homes in the area, as new families and "Gampies" (active retired people) are attracted to the higher quality of life that accompanies recreation facilities.


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