Leaders of a golf course have voiced concerns over a proposed bike path that would cut through its property, and several neighborhood residents have vocally opposed the city of Bakersfield’s plan.
Links at Riverlakes Ranch Golf Course says the proposed multi-use path that would run along the Friant-Kern Canal from the Kern River Parkway to 7th Standard Road could create security issues for the private facility, as well as potentially crowd the parking lot.
Other concerns include the safety of those who use the trail, as well as the use of a small bridge over the canal used by golf carts that the trail may utilize, potentially allowing access to the golf course.
“We’re certainly not opposed to opening something like (the trail) for the community, but we just want our concerns addressed,” said Gabriela Gonzales, government and public affairs manager for Providence Strategic Consulting Inc., a public affairs firm hired by Riverlakes Ranch. “We really want to work with the city, and if the city thinks that this is a great thing for the community, awesome, but we really need to have our concerns addressed, and we just don’t feel like we’ve had that.”
The city hopes to fund the $8.2 million project through state grants. It first applied for the grant in August.
Although the city was not on the list of approved grant projects when the state’s Active Transportation Program announced awards, City Councilman Bob Smith says the city could still receive the funds.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance,” he said.
The city has moved forward with plans to complete the multi-use trail, hedging its bets that it will get the funding it needs to complete the project. It is in the early stages of completing the project.
Smith said the project was at least two to three years out from completion.
He added the city would meet with the golf course to go over the city’s plans and try to address their concerns.
“I’ve been to a lot of bike paths … that go by golf courses and through golf courses so I don’t really understand what they perceive the conflict to be,” he said. “I’ve seen it work in a lot of places so I don’t know why it couldn’t work.”
Some homeowners in the area have come out in open opposition to the trail.
“We strongly feel that opening this easement to public use is a direct challenge to our safety and security,” homeowner Stanley Jones, who lives several blocks from Riverlakes Ranch, wrote in a letter to the city. “There is no mention in the public notice of any form of monitoring of such a trail, especially during the dark hours, or any lighting that might discourage entry into any of the many homes that could now be accessed by their unprotected backyards.”
Other homeowners along the proposed trail route echoed similar safety concerns.
“Safety is a really big concern for the neighbors,” Gonzales said.
Smith said the city would host a public hearing to give citizens the opportunity to voice their opinion during a Planning Commission meeting.
The issue had been on a recent agenda before it was taken off so the city could address citizens’ concerns, Smith said. But it would be put back on the agenda before construction began on the trail.
He saw hope that everybody involved could find some common ground.
“To have trails networking throughout the city is a great positive,” Smith said. “The existing bike path is a great east-west facility, and this would tie up into north Bakersfield.”