Karene Williams

In 2018, California voters passed Proposition 68 which will provide $650,275,000 for parks in critically underserved communities. I downloaded, printed and read the 78-page Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program Jan. 22 Final Application Guide. I ended up with more questions than answers.

One of the first things I noticed was that only $368 million was awarded after the 2006 Proposition 84 was passed. Proposition 84 provided for $2.9 billion in bond funds intended for parks. It looks to me like there is still $2.532 billion remaining but not awarded. Are these funds sitting in an account in Sacramento? If so, why was Proposition 68 even needed and why not award these 2006 funds to worthwhile projects?

In reviewing the criteria for applying for any of the available funds, I noticed that projects are ineligible if they have a ratio of more than 3 acres of park space per 1,000 residents and the community has a median household income above $51,026. The guide referred me to the State of California Community FactFinder Report, which is supposed to provide the ratio for any given community. I downloaded Reports for Bodfish, Canebrake, Kernville, Lake Isabella, Mountain Mesa, Onyx, South Lake, Weldon and Wofford Heights.

After reviewing each of these reports, it is obvious that they contain totally incorrect information as to the park acreage in each community. Here is what they show:

Bodfish: 72.49 park acres; Canebrake: 26.96 park acres; Kernville: 16.61 park acres; Lake Isabella: 87.72 park acres; Mountain Mesa: 128.56 park acres; Onyx: 136.07 park acres; South Lake: 58.28 park acres; Weldon: 0 park acres; Wofford Heights: 140.94 park acres.

Anyone who lives in the Kern River Valley knows that these figures are not correct.

First, there is no park in Bodfish. Second, Linda Kissack Ball Park in Lake Isabella is 33.5 acres, but it is doubtful that Tank Park is 54.22 acres. Third, Mountain Mesa has one park, and I do not believe it is 128.56 acres. Fourth, Onyx has Scodie Park, but it is not 136.07 acres. Fifth, South Lake does not have a park, so the 58.28 acres is erroneous. Sixth, the one park in Wofford Heights is nowhere near 140.94 acres.

I believe FactFinder reports include lands that are within unimproved state and/or national parks rather than being limited to community parks. That skews the report so that no community in the Kern River Valley is eligible for a grant under Proposition 68. This is wrong on so many levels.

The Kern River Valley should qualify because we meet the following criteria: critical lack of park space and significant poverty. It would be a crying shame if we are deemed ineligible due to the state attributing incorrect acreage figures to our various communities. I have sent an email to the state pointing out these discrepancies; however, I will not hold my breath waiting on a response.

Karene R. Williams is a 1960 graduate of South High School and a retired Certified Professional Landman. She resides in Lake Isabella.