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City conducts study of area parks and recreational facilities

City Council Update

Pat Doody.

Before the City of Tehachapi planned its first two ventures into public recreation, the pickleball courts at the police station and the 5-A-side soccer field at the newly opened Valley Park, they began an assessment into the recreation facilities available throughout the Greater Tehachapi Area from all providers including programs, facilities and operations. To save public funds, the city staff undertook a comprehensive analysis of each recreational entity within the Tehachapi area with a focus on facilities, programs offered and potential opportunities for better service delivery and collaboration between the entities. The results of the extensive assessment were presented by Assistant City Manager Corey Costelloe at the June 17 City Council meeting.

Costelloe reminded the council that the city, as well as the County of Kern, have been a member of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District since its creation in 1958. TVRPD services all Tehachapi area communities including the city, Golden Hills, Mountain Meadows, Sand Canyon, Alpine Forest, Hart Flat and other unincorporated areas of Kern County and serves about 40,000 people. Property owners pay for recreation services through their property taxes, special fees and associations. Both Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs have since separated from TVRPD and provide their own services and funding sources.

The city's assessment included the programs and facilities of the City and TVRPD as well as those of the Golden Hills Community Service District, Stallion Springs Community Service District, Tehachapi Unified School District and the Bear Valley Springs Association to see where collaboration between the groups could benefit each of the entities and ensure solvency. All the groups responded to the study with the exception of Bear Valley Springs, so their information was limited to what was available online.

The major findings of the study emphasized collaboration between the groups as current finances and facilities will not continue to meet the growing demands of the public. All entities would benefit by cross promotion and recruitment across the various jurisdictions both city and county. The study recommended that any facility use agreements with TVRPD, TUSD or other facilities should continue and encouraged expansion, as well.

The study recommended that communities currently involved with TVRPD would benefit by developing smaller individual recreation facilities using grants and other available funding to augment existing facilities. TUSD could also work with TVRPD and the city to renovate underutilized facilities like Imhof Field to increase community usage. Any of the agencies that rely on usage fees or memberships should consider rate studies to see if updates should be required to assure program and venue sustainability.

Costelloe said he hopes the study will "serve as a guidance tool for each entity involved used to expore all options available in order to better provide services, facilities and recreational opportunities for our residents."

The full study is attached to the July 17 City Council Agenda on the city's website, http://www.liveuptehachapi.com/.

The Tehachapi City Council meets on the first and third Monday of the month at 6 p.m. They are currently meeting at the Police Department Community Room, 220 W. C St.