BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — If you feel like your local neighborhood park is in need of some changes, they could be coming soon. A city grant has been invested into several parks on behalf of improving playground safety and equipment.
A handful of parks in Kern County have received a total of $22 million in funding towards renovations of softball fields, basketball courts, skate parks, solar panels, and much more.
Wasco resident Maria Dias felt as if renovations at Cormack Park have been long overdue. Playground equipment was old, and there are not enough lights for when the sun goes down. Dias said she was always told funding was the issue.
“Sometimes I bring my grandchildren around here but that thing, it’s too old,” said Dias. “The city said, it’s no money.”
But that is set to change, and Dias is optimistic that many children will spend more time outdoors thanks to this funding.
“I’m so happy to see in this round 22 and half-million dollars coming to the Central Valley to not only upgrade our parks and renovate our parks but even build brand new amenities,” said District 32 Assemblymember Rudy Salas.
Salas said that this grant funding was made possible by Proposition 68 and that various applications were submitted but not all were approved.
What is Proposition 68?
California Proposition 68, the Parks, Environment, and Water Bond, was on the ballot in California as a legislatively referred bond act on June 5, 2018. The measure was approved.
Proposition 68 authorized $4 billion in general obligation bonds for state and local parks, environmental protection and restoration projects, water infrastructure projects, and flood protection projects. Assuming a 3.5 percent interest rate over a 30-year period, the bond issue was projected to generate $2.53 billion in interest, meaning the state was expected to spend $6.53 billion to pay off the bond issue.
The measure required that between 15 and 20 percent of the bond funds, depending on the type of project, be dedicated to projects in communities with median household incomes less than 60 percent of the statewide average; that 60 percent threshold amounted to about $39,980 in 2016. The largest amount of bond revenue—$725 million—was earmarked for neighborhood parks in park-poor neighborhoods in accordance with the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Act of 2008's competitive grant program. The measure also reallocated $100 million in unissued bonds that voters approved via Proposition 1 (2014), Proposition 84 (2006), and Proposition 40 (2002).
- Source: Ballotpedia
The residents played a role in helping get what the parks need.
“The local park is actually going to meet the local needs of those families so whether they prioritize barbeque areas, a skate park, a spray park for the summers, or a pickle court, that was all the flexibility built in so that the local parks can meet the local demands,” added Salas.
A huge part of this grant funding was not only for the upgrade of playground equipment but also for the safety of the children who play in these parks.
“Integrating all of these safety features whether it's upgrading lighting or upgrading playground equipment because we know that upgrading playground equipment is so much safer, that all of that is going to be integrated in this park grant money that is coming to our local parks and for our local families,” continued Salas.
The renovation of these parks also includes installing new light structures for the evening and night.
“Not only renovating old existing light structures so that they are actually brighter with led light but actually putting in lights in the first place,” said Salas.
Cities such as Arvin, Shafter, Lamont, Hanford, and Wasco are looking forward to the renovations of their local parks. Many local residents and children are also very excited for the updated playgrounds to come right here within their own communities.