In an effort to continue with projects for some of the unincorporated areas of the county, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors and county staff have focused some of their attention to Terra Bella. But, their efforts have not been without help. Setton Farms Pistachio, a long-time member of the community has aided in the projects.
A lot of community input was accessed to aide in the Terra Bella Community Plan update, presented to supervisors in November, 2015, said Michael Washam, assistant director of Economic Planning and Development Department (EDD) for the county.
The plan is a part of the overall general plan on the county in part with economic development along the Highway 65 and 99 corridors¸ but also aimed at making each of the communities “safer, healthier and more sustainable.”
Efforts have been made toward completing some street and sidewalk projects including the “Safe Routes to School” program. The county also aims to generate more flexibility in zoning to allow more than one use for a property – such as a business with an attached residence and/or allowing for quicker start-up time for a potential business to a community.
The county has been highly successful in receiving grant funding for many recent projects throughout the county. The same has been quite helpful in the Terra Bella community providing funds for street and sidewalk work involving five streets and the sidewalks close to Terra Bella Elementary School.
But, far and away, one of the most significant recent improvements for the community is a recreational area, perceived and brought to fruition through Setton Farms, Washman said.
“We went to the school and asked for input about what they ¬[residents] wanted to see in the park,” said David Goad, Setton Farms plant manager.
Improvements were made in a walking track, and a new stainless steel drinking water filling station was added, trees and shrubs were planted and barbecue pits with shelters and picnic tables were placed along with playground equipment. Privacy fencing has also been built.
While Setton provided the plans and organization, along with the land, it asked its business partners to participate as well.
Some of its pistachio growers donated funding, a local electrician who is contracted by the plant, provided solar lights for the recreational area, and a local manufacturer installed the barbecue pits and shelters, Goad said.
“It’s a team effort,” he said.
The park is irrigated with recycled water from the plant.
“We’re part of the town – our employees live here – we are Terra Bella, we’re right in the middle of town,” he said.
Supervisor Mike Ennis said that the park “is a great, great asset to the community,” in a video produced by EDD and displayed on YouTube.
The park has been a community project,” Washam said. “There is no graffiti and no vandalism.”
Another recent addition to the community is a Family Healthcare Network clinic in 2014. The clinic has been extremely well received by those in the area, Washman said.
The county has also been active in taking down old, dilapidated buildings in the area – but not just by bulldozing them down.
“There is a sustainable and historic approach to this,” Washam said. “Boards are pulled off carefully for reuse or refurbishing as are the old windows.”
And with all of this, more improvements still may come in the near future to Terra Bella and other small communities within the county, Washam said.
The Tulare County “Build a Day in Terra Bella” may be viewed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=or96RiMBjhc