County gets big win with Proposition 68 funding

December 10, 2021 /

With support from the Parks and Facilities Operation, Boys and Girls Club of South Kern, the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE), and the young people in Lamont’s community, Comité Progreso de Lamont spent the last two years designing the map for the Lamont Park transformation.

On December 8 Kern County’s Administrative Office announced that the county has been awarded $6.5 million in Proposition 68 funding to completely renovate Lamont Park.

For Jose Mireles, Lamont resident and President of Comité Progreso de Lamont, this park transformation means a lot as communities in Lamont have spent years advocating for park improvements. Comité Progreso de Lamont and the Boys and Girls Club of South Kern played an important part, as they worked alongside the county, the groups held community meetings and gathered community input.

“When we started the Comité I used to call it the forgotten ghost town because nothing was getting done here in Lamont,” Mireles stated during an interview. “We started advocating for Lamont and now things are starting to be different.”

Lamont Park will be transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with a goal to improve quality of life in Lamont. According to the CAO’s media release, the funding for Lamont Park will provide an opportunity to improve the physical and mental health of residents in this community and aligns with their goals to support and enhance parts of Kern County most in need.

The Lamont Park transformation will include the following park amenities:

  • New soccer field with artificial turf, LED lighting, and accessible pathways.
  • Inclusive ocean-themed splash pad with year-round use design.
  • Outdoor pavilion/placita. (event space)
  • New recreation building with an outdoor seating area.
  • Inclusive exercise equipment.
  • Inclusive play structures.
  • Inclusive strength and coordination equipment.
  • Enclosed multi-use court with LED lighting. (indoor soccer, street hockey, Zumba)
  • Tennis/pickleball court with LED lighting.
  • Restrooms and water fountains/filling stations.
  • Below grade garden.
  • Outdoor shade structure with benches and barbecues.
  • Resurfacing of existing basketball courts.
  • New walking paths throughout the park.
  • Automated irrigation control.

“This is fantastic news for the people of Lamont, they deserve it,” said District 4 Supervisor David Couch. “Lamont Park will be completely renovated and will rival the very best parks found anywhere in the State of California. I want to thank the community of Lamont for providing direct input into the design, and our County parks team for the hard work they put in to make this project a reality.”

Gustavo Aguirre, Director of Organizing with CRPE believes that a park of this magnitude will be amazing for the Lamont community.

“I struggled to hold my tears because I know how important this project has been for residents of Lamont,” Aguirre said during an interview. “Working directly with the residents of Lamont, we spent a lot of time advocating for this.”

Aguirre definitely expects more opportunities in community investment to become available for other rural communities in Kern County.

“This is just an example of that, when we come together and work together with the county and residents, we can find those funds to improve our community,” Aguirre said.

In addition to Lamont, the cities of Shafter, Wasco, and Arvin each received funding to renovate parks in their communities.

According to a press release sent out by Arvin officials, public outreach events conducted in 2020 and 2021 solidified Arvin’s need for park improvements. Residents and the Arvin Little League attended City Council meetings to request improvements to Kovacevich park and DiGiorgio Park
baseball fields.

“I have been on pins and needles waiting for eight months for the outcome of this application as it was crucial to Arvin’s stakeholders,” said Arvin’s grant writer Christine Viterelli. “I want our residents to know that their participation in the process was instrumental and that their voices matter. This award is confirmation of exactly that, and I am on cloud nine that we finally did it!”

The City of Arvin’s “Field of Dreams and Baseball Teams” project will renovate two existing baseball fields with lighting, replace field fencing, construct a new shaded playground with pour in rubber surface and a statue, renovate a basketball court, renovate bathrooms, install new water lines, and build a new parking lot with pavement and lighting.

Jeff Jones, Interim City Manager commented that “Baseball and Little League is a vital recreational activity in Arvin and now the City will be able to build its very own Field of Dreams. We are grateful to the California State Department of Parks and Recreation for this wonderful opportunity!”

Listed below are the park transformations coming to the Shafter and Wasco communities:

  • City of Shafter North Shafter Community Park Development $3,803,030  
    • Create the new North Shafter Community Park in the City of Shafter. Construct a new skate park, spray park, playground with obstacle course, exercise stations, outdoor stage/gazebo, multi-purpose court, five picnic areas with shade, walking pathways, parking lot, restroom, each feature with dedicated lighting, and landscaping throughout the park. 
  • Wasco R.P.D. Love Cormack Park Renovating for Generations $1,769,740  
    • Renovate the Love Cormack Park in the Town of Wasco. Construct a new playground with shade, walking paths with lighting, picnic and BBQ area with shade, six basketball courts, a pickleball court, tennis court, volleyball court, GaGa ball court, multi-use field, two soccer/football fields, amphitheater, demonstration garden, dog park, fitness area with six stations, parking lot, solar lighting throughout the park (12 poles), and landscaping throughout the park. Renovate two youth softball fields. 

During the 9 a.m. Board of Supervisors meeting on December 14, Carl Brewer with the Kern County Parks and Facilities Operation will be making a special presentation on the Lamont Park award and recognizing all the supporting partners that helped.