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One Year After Flooding, Improvements to Riverside Park on the Horizon

Riverside Park was permanently changed after the park was submerged under the mighty Kern River on March 10, 2023
Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 13, 2024

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — Riverside Park was permanently changed after the park was submerged under the mighty Kern River on March 10, 2023.

  • Video shows the damage at Riverside Park that is still present one year later after flooding.
  • It's been roughly a year since floodwaters raced through the town of Kernville and although the water has receded many residents are still waiting for repairs to be made. One local business owner is advocating for safer access to the river for the park

“I came here forty years ago, sat here in the park, and looked at the river going by and it’s like, ‘This is where I would like to run a whitewater outdoor center,’”recalled Tom Moore.

That’s exactly what Moore did. Now, he’s President of Sierra South Paddle Sports in Kernville and runs the business with his son.

He loves Riverside park but he says the embankment between the park and the river has eroded over the years, causing a safety hazard that was made worse by last year's flooding.

“I mean it’s not easy to get down, imagine a mom and a young child getting down here, it’s certainly not wheelchair accessible,” said Tom Moore.

Ally Soper, Chief Communications Officer for Kern County, says that the County is planning a restoration project on the park to repair damage from the flooding.

“We’re working to finalize the construction drawings for this entire restoration piece and this project bid will go out to contractors this Spring with construction beginning this summer,” Soper said.

These improvements include replacing the section of the walkway that was lost.

“This pathway through here was all flooded out and it just torqued it, lifted it up,” said Moore, motioning to the area of dirt where the walkway used to be before last March’s flooding.

In an email, Soper included a full list of the planned improvements.

“This will include replacing washed out concrete walkways, replacing damaged picnic tables, benches, and a BBQ, replacing play sand and safety play surfaces, replacing the basketball court, replacing a swing set, rehabilitate the exercise equipment and replace one piece of exercise equipment, new turf and irrigation system, repair rafting launch area, and restore electrical service,” Soper wrote.

“The patchiness is from the flood, and they haven't re-seeded because they didn’t have any water.”

The County did not say whether the well house will be rebuilt to supply that irrigation system with water from the river.

But, the planned work on the embankment is going to take longer than the improvements listed above.

“That will take a little bit longer to bring into construction because the portion of this work involves getting the Army Corps of Engineers in the mix, as well as the California State Water Board,” Soper said.

Specifics about the plan weren’t provided, but Soper said they plan to bring in over 5,300 cubic yards of earthwork and replacement of rock protection.

Moore worked with other residents for years to design a plan that would allow safe access to the river at Riverside, which includes steps made from stone down heading down a slope to an area where an eddy would be, allowing safe access for families and easy access for fishing.

He hopes the County will step in with an embankment restoration project that will withstand future floods.

“If you just put in the dirt, the water is going to come out and wash that out again,” Moore said.

He says many residents have a special connection with the park.

“And it's because of that river right there - You can sit here and just watch the river for 10 minutes, or four hours.”

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