Taft College interested as federal government declares them surplus property

Those weed-invested vacant lots in Ford City may one day soon become something else.
There are eight of them, and for more than half a century they have sat empty as part of the Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve north of Taft – set aside as potentially future oil drilling sites.
Now the government wants to get rid of them – with strings attached, of course.
Taft College has a keen interest in acquiring several of the sites, according to Supt./Pres. Willy Duncan.
“Our hope is that we can receive the properties for educational purposes,” he said.  “There are three of them close to our campus.  I would like to see one used for a dorm.  Another one might be used for additional parking.  There is one on Tenth Street that might be ideal for an educational facility of some type.”
Education is one of the possible uses spelled out in the notice the General Services Administration (GSA) released announcing the properties are being disposed of.
Types of disposal or public use cited by the GSA includes:
Negotiated sales to public bodies for general public use
Educational facility, including school, classroom, or other purposes
Protection of public health, including research and drug rehabilitation
Public park or recreational area
Historic monument
Self-help housing
Correctional facility or law enforcement
Emergency management response, including fire and rescue
Wildlife conservation
Widening of public highways, streets or alleys
Federal aid or other highways
Although there are eight parcels, only seven are being offered at this time.  The eighth, located near the northwest corner of Ash and Fourth streets “will be offered at a later date due to environmental remediation requirements,” the notice said.  That site has contamination issues.
Proposals for facilities to assist the homeless will be granted a priority consideration, the GSA announcement noted.
Each of the sites is just over two acres, ranging in size from 2.06 acres to 2.21 acres.  Four are 2.07 acres.  The total available is 14.68 acres.
The college has been trying to get the properties released for at least the past 20 years, Duncan said.
“This has been going on for a long time,” he said.  “The Army Corps of Engineers looked at the sites and did environmental impact reports and some cleanup.  A year and a half ago it was determined they would be disposed of.”
The process picked up steam once Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, got involved.
“Kevin McCarthy’s office has been very helpful in getting this done,” Duncan said.  “The Department of Energy told me it was the Congressman’s inquiry that got them interested in making it happen.”
The city has worked in tandem with the college to get the property released.
“The main reason we got involved was to help Taft College,” City Manager Bob Gorson said.  “It’s been a long process.”