Residents respond to the High-Speed Rail Authority

Gregory D. Cook

Jerry Ludeke, director of the Bakersfield College Archives, addresses the board of directors of the California High-Speed Rail Authority during a hearing at the Beale Memorial Library on Sept. 22.

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

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Bakersfield to San Francisco in about two hours seems like a good thing, but many Bakersfield residents would beg to differ.

Many residents attended a public hearing on Sept. 22 at Beale Library to respond to the Environmental Impact Report the California High-Speed Rail Authority submitted to the public.

Randy Martin, manager of Lazy H mobile home park on Jewetta Avenue just south of Rosedale Highway, said that anywhere from 11 to 22 units would have to be relocated in order to suit the part of the high-speed rail that would run behind Lazy H.

Martin said a lot of the tenants of the park are older folks who have lived there for many years and have made the park their home.

Dick Martinoff is part-owner of the Lazy H mobile home park.  He read a letter from other residents who are in opposition to the high-speed train’s path. The letter was a plea from residents asking that the California High-Speed Rail Authority, “consider our property and the impact that could be avoided.”

There were also members of the Korean Presbyterian Church, located off of Calloway Drive and Slikker Drive, who asked the Authority to reconsider the placement of the track in order to save their church.

“We are praying,” said one member.

Bakersfield College’s archive director, Jerry Ludeke, said she has “mixed feelings” about the high-speed train.

“That is a part of BC’s history too, Bakersfield College’s history, I would like to see that campus [Bakersfield High School] maintained as it is. I don’t want to see it taking part of BHS campus and buildings,” said Ludeke.

BHS has been in the same location since 1895 and Bakersfield College was actually part of the BHS campus for 43 years.

Many students from Bakersfield High School were on hand to offer their opinion on the possible destruction of two historical buildings on their campus, the Industrial Arts building and the Harvey Auditorium.

The students spoke of the years of tradition that BHS holds, generations of family who have all attended the school and the younger generations that look forward to attending the school.

“When you take two buildings away, you’re taking away a part of the school,” said Austin Lindsay.

There were BHS students standing on all four corners of Truxtun Avenue and Q Street with large signs saying: “Save BHS” and “Honk if you want to save BHS.”

Ken Hooper is a teacher at BHS as well as the president of the Bakersfield Historical Society. He came to the public hearing to speak his mind.

“For 118 years, we’ve been educating students. The business of education has been good for us so far.

“The history of Bakersfield High School is not simply the history of the buildings, but the students entering those buildings to become the leaders of our community, state, nation and the world,” said Hooper.

He also said he believes that Bakersfield High School should be a part of the historical directory of Kern County.

Aside from BHS students and teachers, there were also business and landowners at the hearing to discuss their thoughts of the possibility of their business or land being affected by the high-speed train.

Jeff Taylor was one of these businessmen and said he had only found out about his properties being affected two weeks before the hearing.

“It’s going to economically devastate me,” said Taylor.

Many Bakersfield residents came to the public hearing to express their concerns about the route, the buildings and homes that would be affected, and the financial issues the Authority may face in the future.

California voters passed Proposition 1A in 2008 which earmarked $9.95 billion for high-speed rail production. California also gained $616 million of Florida’s shunned high-speed rail money.

Still, this money does not begin to cover the $50 billion more California needs to complete this operation.

The Authority estimates that groundbreaking for the high-speed rail will be in 2012 and the high-speed rail should be completely operational by 2020.

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