Q: I remember reading in The Californian that the new ballpark was going to break ground in February. It is now April. What happened? Is the ballpark still happening?
A: Owners of the Bakersfield Blaze baseball team offered assurances as recently as this past week that work on the project continues.
Owners Gene Voiland and fellow oilman Chad Hathaway unveiled plans Nov. 1 for a $20 million, 3,500-seat venue at the Bakersfield Commons mixed-used real estate development proposed at Coffee and Brimhall roads.
Just over a month later, they secured a conditional use permit for the stadium from the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment. Voiland said at the time that he hoped to break ground in February.
Project grading plans submitted to the city in January were sent back for corrections shortly afterward. The next step in the permitting process would be receiving the corrected plans, said Rhonda Smiley, assistant to the city manager.
But Bakersfield Building Director Phil Burns said, "We have not received any new plans since then."
Voiland said in an interview April 5 that he and Hathaway were still working on the project's financing, and that they were diligently "dotting the 'I's and crossing the 'T's." He declined to elaborate.
"There's always a point where we make, quote-unquote, the final decision," he said, "and we're not ready to say that."
Several elected and appointed city officials said they do not know the project's exact status -- but that it's not really any of their business. As Smiley put it, "We're not in partnership with them. This is a private venture."
Voiland had this to say in an email Friday:
"The Blaze ownership, many contractors, consultants and permitting authorities have been working hard over the past few months to put all the pieces in place to make the new ballpark a reality. We now have a nearly complete set of architectural drawings for a first class ballpark. We have moved forward with our construction planning and obtaining the necessary construction permits.
"As you can imagine, this is a very complex effort that requires many parts to come together before we are able to 'break ground.' But we are very close, and expect that we will be able to be more specific about our timeline as early as (this) week."
Q: Why aren't U-turns permissible at the intersection of southbound Calloway Drive and Rosedale Highway? There is plenty of room to make a U-turn and it is impossible to get to the CVS/pharmacy when driving south.
-- Katy Swanson
A: Ryan Starbuck, traffic engineer with the city's public works department, answered this one:
The city removed the sign several months ago. The sign had been installed by Caltrans before the development on the northeast corner to widen the road to its ultimate location, which now provides enough room for the U-turn movement.
Q: Can you disclose to your readers the authority under which police officers driving city of McFarland police cars are arresting drivers south of the city limits in the northbound lanes of Highway 99?
I understood that city police jurisdiction ends at the city limits (unless in hot pursuit). However, I have witnessed on several separate occasions McFarland city police cars sitting in the shade of the trees at the Whisler Road interchange, assumably running radar or laser, and on Sunday of this week, I saw a driver pulled over by a McFarland unit, fully 500 yards south of the city limits sign, in the northbound lane, meaning the officer had to make the arrest outside the city limits.
-- Gregg K. Knowles
A: McFarland Sgt. Scot Kimble responded:
Police officers from the McFarland Police Department and every police officer in the state of California has statewide jurisdiction to enforce violations of law. Jurisdictional boundaries are those boundaries that are governed by municipal employment.
Any police officer in the state of California can make a traffic stop in any jurisdiction to affect the safety of the public. As you are aware, Highway 99 splits the city of McFarland and is well within our jurisdiction. It is our determination to reduce, or minimize, safety issues on every road within our jurisdiction (including Highway 99).
We do not enforce California vehicle violations unless they are committed in our presence on Highway 99. The direct vehicle code enforcement is the mission of the California Highway Patrol. As in every other jurisdiction in the county of Kern and the state of California, traffic safety is a major issue. Just recently in the jurisdiction of McFarland, there was a major traffic collision on Highway 99, which had fatal consequences. It is the job of our police department to do whatever is necessary to minimize such traffic collisions on all roads within our city.
As an aggressive and viable police department in Kern County, we will continue to make our city safe as possible. In review of your question to The Californian, our department has not affected the arrest of anyone outside our city's jurisdiction while on Highway 99. We appreciate your concerns and welcome any inquiries into our department operations. Should you have any further questions, please contact the administration of the McFarland Police Department at 792-2121.
Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to email@example.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.