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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BLM sells city of Taft land for $10 per acre

By Doug Keeler
Published: Friday, October 19, 2007

Taft Midway Driller Editor

The Federal Bureau of Land Management made the city an offer it can't refuse - land for just $10 per acre.

So the Taft City Council jumped at the chance to by 454 acres of vacant land between Gardner Field Road and Petroleum Club Road with an eye towards using it for everything from Rails to Trails paths to drilling islands for the oil industry.

The land is being sold through a BLM program that makes land available to cities at the low price through its Recreation Public Purposes Act.

The act specifies that the land only be purchased by public entities for recreational purposes only and not be sold.

City Grants Administrator Lucille Holt and other city officials have been working on plans for the L-shaped parcel which spans an area from Gardner Field Road south to Petroleum Club Road just west of Gas Company Road.

The council has already approved seeking grant funding to pay for the improvements.

When the plans come to fruition, it will extend the city's Rails to Trails jogging path over Highway 33 and east for more than a mile.

The proposed recreation area would have approximately 90 acres set aside for trails and the rest would remain vacant or be used for other recreational purposes.

The plan to take $4,540 out of the city's capitol reserves was approved by a 3-0 vote at Tuesday's council meeting.

The only concerns came from a representative of Occidental of Elk Hills, which owns the deep rights to the oil under the land the city is buying.

Byron Pugh, a land negotiator for the oil firm, said it supports the city's proposal but it is concerned that its rights to the oil are not affected.

City officials assured him they would work with Oxy to ensure access.

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