20190323-bc-oldtownkern

The historic Southern Pacific train station, which opened in 1889, is now owned by the Union Pacific. Its presence at Sumner and Baker streets helped define what later became known as Old Town Kern.

Hit — The old east Bakersfield train station is iconic and deserves an equally impressive second act.

Union Pacific Railroad has finally broken ground on a new train depot in east Bakersfield, but what will happen with the 1889 building is still a mystery. 

While the idea hasn't left the station, when the city takes control, it should secure the building, which has been deteriorating for years. However, government should not revitalize the building.

Instead, request proposals from private companies, groups or nonprofits to repurpose the old station and operate it. Engage the community by soliciting ideas. Enter into a long-term lease agreement that includes performance markers so that the station, which has appeared in photos, postcards and memories since the turn of the century, will remain in public hands.

Whatever is built, postcards that say "From Bakersfield with love" are a must.

Hit — With homeless numbers increasing from last year, city and county officials are not waiting around for the problem to escalate further.

The number of homeless people found in Bakersfield during a four-hour period in Kern County in late January had increased from 885 people in 2018 to 1,330 in 2019.

Though the jump may be due to more volunteers participating in the count, it's obvious a problem exists. Luckily, action is taking place.

Bakersfield officials recently announced the city plans to spend $9 million in sales tax revenue on new housing for the homeless. There are also plans to expand The Mission at Kern County and the Bakersfield Homeless Center by 40 beds each. Additionally, the Homeless Collaborative has made it easier for people to find new housing.

There's a long way to go, but these programs could be the start of reducing homeless numbers.

Miss — Bakersfield lost a bit of sunshine this week.

Sunshine "Sunny" Scofield, who broke glass ceilings without even knowing it, died Monday at a nursing home in Santa Clarita. She was 102.

In the late 1960s and early '70s, she produced, directed, starred in and sold the advertising for her talk show "Sunny Today." In a field dominated by men, what she was doing was revolutionary. 

"She was a feminist without ever knowing what the word meant. She was a trailblazer without ever trying to be a trailblazer," David Lane, her son, said.

The ray of light she was will continue to shine on for years to come.

Hit — Bicyclists who have been hoping for a longer Kern River Bike Trail might see it happen.

An engineer has been working on devising a workable path and acquiring right of way for an extension. The plan is to have a trail from the mouth of the Kern River Canyon to the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area.

It would have to be granted by the state's Active Transportation Program, which works to boost the number of trips accomplished by walking and biking, improve safety and mobility, enhance public health and more.

After a WalletHub study named Bakersfield the third worst city for an active lifestyle, an extended bike path might get people moving.