BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
The Bakersfield City Council voted to make no changes to the Centennial Plaza while a committee discusses possible options.
City staff hopes the final result will create an environment that is safe for all plaza visitors.
Bakersfield resident Lauren Crown spent two years and more than 4,000 hours helping make the Centennial Plaza a place for families to commemorate their loved ones one brick at a time.
“For some folks one hundred dollars was a big deal and families would come into the offices and would put their brick on lay away, paying in payments. I know that the plaza isn’t easy to keep up, but we just can’t destroy promises made to people of Bakersfield,” she said.
Money from those memorial bricks helped pay for the plaza. Since opening in 1998 thousands have visited. Over the years as it aged, bricks on the plaza have chipped, some even breaking making the site a safety hazard.
“We had a settlement related to a trip and fall on the plaza, and we have a pending lawsuit. We have other tripping and trip and fall complaints that are related to our public works staff through out the year,” said Chris Huot, assistant to City Manager, City of Bakersfield.
Proposed plans call for the bricks to be re-located to an area that is still highly visible but is not on any major walkway at the plaza.
“We had the opportunity to learn just how important the plaza is and how important the individual bricks are to the people that purchased them,” said Jacquie Sullivan, Bakersfield City Council – Ward 6.
Preliminary plans also include a wall site housing some of the broken tiles.
“We look at adding some things that would help to complete vision, I think shade is important in Bakersfield,” said Bob Smith, Bakersfield City Council – Ward 4.
The fountain on the plaza is also a big problem for the city. Leaders say its difficult to maintain, the light fixtures and spray nozzles often pop out of the fountain. Staff is currently looking at options to re-designing it.
“The people who took the time to write the letters, to make the phone calls, made a tremendous impact on what we’re talking about now because before we were just going to take those bricks out and even if it was in four pieces we’re going to hand it back to you and say thank you very much for a $100, and now we’re going to do what’s right,” said Terry Maxwell, Bakersfield City Council – Ward 2.
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