BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The city has announced it's looking to hire 20 new park ranger recruits as part of the new proposed Park Ranger Program.
Responding to the destruction of Bakersfield's parks, city Public Information Officer Joe Conroy says the city needs round-the-clock monitors to keep parks safe.
Recreation and Parks has found that they’re spending around $15,000 on average each month repairing damage, whether that’s vandalism or graffiti or replacing assets that we have in the parks. If you do the math, that’s about $180,000 a year," he said.
The goal is to have boots on the ground at all times to preserve Bakersfield's public spaces. Councilman Andrae Gonzales has been an active proponent of this project, seeing it as an easy fix after the destruction and vandalism.
As a councilman, I’m embarrassed by how all of these assets we’ve invested in over the years... All of these improvements we’ve made at many of are parks are completely destroyed," he told Eyewitness News.
Two staff members were assaulted in eight months, and most of the problem is caused by the homeless. Conroy says park rangers should free up law enforcement from responding to park-related calls.
“Other municipalities including Kern county and even North of the River Park District, they also have ranger programs. We’ve seen it work in other places and we think it’ll work with the city of Bakersfield’s parks as well," Conroy said.
He says we can expect to see rangers in parks within the next year. This will generate new jobs in the city and could bring even more as the program evolves.
The city will vote on the park ranger program at Wednesday's city council meeting.