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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Extension of Western Kern County Rails to Trails being discussed

By Doug Keeler
Published: Friday, September 28, 2007

City officials are hoping grant funding can extend the Taft Rails to Trails walking path more than three miles to the east where it will join a large walking, biking and nature area.

Plans are preliminary and funding has not yet been obtained, but Lucille Holt, the city's grants administrator, is envisioning several hundred acres of pathways, a nature area, possibly an amphitheater on 454 acres of land currently owned by the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

Holt calls it a walking park - three-quarters of a square mile of open land crisscrossed by paths for walking, jogging, biking or skating.

It could even include a nature preserve or an amphitheater built in a natural depression.

“It's an ambitious plan and it won't happen overnight, but I think it would be a wonderful addition to Taft,” Holt said.

Grants - both state and federal - will be needed to get the project going. Federal grants can be used to extend trails to trails east from its current end at Second Street for nearly 31/2 miles along the old Sunset Railroad right-of-way to the site of the proposed park, currently an L-shaped parcel of vacant land.

The project would need a pedestrian bridge over Highway 33 stretching from Petroleum Club Road to Gardner Field Road near the intersection with Gas Company Road.

It is also located near where Sandy Creek crosses Gardner Field Road.

Plans have been discussed over the past six years to someday turn Sandy Creek into a recreational walking and biking path.

That fits in well with the proposal that Holt is looking at.

“We would really like to turn Taft into a walking community,” Holt said.

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