BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A project for the future, neighborhoods in parts of Bakersfield are coming together to apply for grants that could help improve their areas and make them better places to live.
The focus area where the projects are targeted covers parts of east, downtown, and central Bakersfield, all to help people in the communities and in disadvantaged neighborhoods where officials said more than 80,000 residents live. Tuesday was a community meeting to ask residents in these areas what improvements they want to see.
For more than 60-years Emprezz Nontzikelelo has lived in the east Bakersfield area and wants to see improvements to her community.
“I do believe that we are going to get funding, I believe that and I see a vision and I see beyond and I see that community,” said Nontzikelelo.
That funding is part of a grant proposal to help improve the infrastructure and quality of life in disadvantaged neighborhoods around east Bakersfield. This is all part of the transformative climate communities plan.
If awarded the grant, these communities could get up to almost $100 million. Now, this community is competing with other ones across the state. In 2019, Andrae Gonzales, city councilman for Ward 2, said about seven other communities applied for a planning grant in 2019, and around four communities, including this one, got that.
“This is an opportunity for us to make a transformative change,” said Gonzales.
The plan focuses on ways to make housing more affordable, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make it easier for people to get around.
The community meeting Tuesday evening was a crucial part of the proposal process because getting input on what people want to see in their neighborhood is integral.
“The whole basis of this program is that it must be community-led. That means that if community members are not part of the process, if they are not informing what projects need to be developed, what strategies need to be developed, then it’s not going to be successful,” said Emma De La Rosa, Policy Advocate Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
Community members working on the project voiced wanting to enhance the area and make it a place people want to stay in.
“I see myself once again walking around a beautiful park that has been upgraded. Where I can stop and there’s a little fitness there where I can stretch and do whatever I need to do. I see that,” said Nontzikelelo.
Residents, like Nontzikelelo, do believe in being a part of the process and making a difference.
“Don’t give up! We are going to see change. Even in my lifetime,” said Nontzikelelo.
project officials don’t have another public comment meeting announced and they hope to have a plan finalized by December, to apply for grants in 2022.
If you want to be a part of the process and share your feedback as well, you can find ways to do that on the project’s website.