BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “To connect people with not just the knowledge of the science, but also a love and appreciation for this land, is what we’re really excited to do," said Lia Mendez.
Mendez is the project consultant for a plan to convert the adobe house in Hart Park into a Nature Center. The future site of the Kern River Parkway Nature Center is located on the east end of Hart Park at the adobe building affectionately known to many as "The Peacock House."
The adobe house in Hart Park was built in 1939. The historic structure served as a ranger station home for the ranger taking care of the park.
But it since has fallen into disrepair.
In 2019 the county was considering demolishing the building, but the community rallied to preserve it instead.
“The community found out it was going to be slated for destruction and there were going to be taco trucks here. we said no, this building has an important history," said Jeff Flores, Chief of Staff for Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard.
In turning the adobe home into a nature center, officials hope to use this project as a means to spread environmental awareness and education through Kern.
“The county’s investing a half a million dollars,” Mendez said.
At the heart of the Nature Center will be a variety of exhibits and programs that highlight the history and natural science of Bakersfield's one and only Kern River.
“Even though it is a small space we have a curator we’re working with who’s going to help us dream up a good way to use that space and have rotating exhibits so that when you come in there’s something new and fresh every time,” Mendez said.
The adobe will also serve as a visitor's center where travelers from both near and far will find information about all nature and outdoor-related places, organizations, and businesses in Kern County.
“There’s so much here to be taken advantage of for families of Kern County," Flores said. "We want to preserve that, we want to highlight that. It truly is a regional asset."
It is currently undergoing studies for flood control but organizers behind this project believe we could see construction begin on this development by the end of the year.
“Personally one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about this project is because I believe that now more than ever what we need in this community is to come together in celebration of our common ground," Mendez said.