For less than $100,000, landlocked campus gets room to expand. Sites could be home to new student housing

 Landlocked Taft College is adding a little territory after buying two lots near campus as future sites for student housing.

The Board of Trustees last Thursday approved the purchase of two former Elk Hills Petroleum Reserve drill sites at a cost of $94,000.

The college has been pursuing the drill sites from the U.S. Department of Energy for the past three decades.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Supt./Pres. Dena Maloney.

The government actually owns eight drill sites – all in the Ford City area, but the college decided to purchase only the two nearest the campus. They are just over two acres each in size.

“We determined it would be best to buy two of them,” she said. “At some point we might want to create student housing. We’re not sure how quickly.”

Both sites are located just off Ash Street on the north side of the campus.

One is between Tyler and Polk streets, the other between Fillmore and Pierce.

Both sites are sandwiched between four homes at each end.

A year ago, when the Department of Energy announced it was offering the sites for sale, then Supt./Pres. Willy Duncan indicated the college also was interested in a third site located at Tenth and Cedar streets.

He suggested that lot might be “ideal for an educational facility of some type.”

The City of Taft also worked with the college to get the sites released but has not indicated if it has any interest in obtaining any of them.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, helped nudge the DOE to consider releasing the sites.

The Army Corps of Engineers did an environmental impact report and cleaned up the lots a year ago.

One site was not offered for sale because of soil contamination issues.

The college also is interested in acquiring land on the west side of Tenth Street north of the Historic Fort for athletic facilities but has not been able to get owner Chevron to budge – or even respond to inquiries.

Duncan said he’d contacted Chevron numerous times about the site of the former 11C Camp, which until 1969 was the headquarters for Standard Oil of California.

“They didn’t respond to any of my letters,” he said.

TC also is interested in acquiring property along Sixth Street and has purchased a former motorcycle shop. It is attempting to acquire the icehouse property and a lot adjacent to Sandy Creek that contains an old two-story building the city would like to see demolished. The city recently cleaned up the property and billed the owner.

The campus also is pinched for potential space by the county library and a church.

TC almost had the county library building two years ago during planning to build its new library and learning resource center.

The plan called for blending the county facility into the new college library just a few yards away. Taft Branch staff was excited about the idea. However, it was scuttled by the county’s department head.