Residential care facility threatened by widening project

The 24th Street widening project threatens to tear down a care facility for elderly women.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - The 24th Street widening project could demolish nearly two dozen homes in the Westchester area, most of them on the north side of the street

One of those homes is a residential care facility, and caretakers say they feel helpless and disappointed with city officials.

The women in Spruce Gardens have no idea their home could be demolished if the project moves forward. They say it will be yet another tough transition in addition to all of the other lifestyle changes they have been forced to make as they age.

Bakersfield city officials say 60,000 vehicles use 24th Street daily. They pass a quaint one-story house at Spruce and 24th Streets, home to five elderly women and two dogs at Spruce Gardens.

"It's just a wonderful home, and it's been the number one home out of three of the homes as far as people wanting to be in that home because of location, because of what it is," said owner Jeanne Schamblin.

But that home could be torn down to accommodate the 24th Street widening project. The city council approved the project's environmental impact report last week.

"What a shame, a shame for the residents. It's just a fiasco, and I think it was a done deal before it ever hit the public," Schamblin said.

Jeanne Schamblin says it takes three to four months to get a home renovated and to get city approval. So, it won't be easy to find another one suitable for her services.

"Some people don't even want a home like this in their neighborhood, so the fact that this is a nice one, fits here very nicely, to rebuild it somewhere is, will probably be very difficult," said David Melo, whose mother lives in the facility.

Those opposed to the project say they feel the city values the flow of traffic over the lives of many who have lived in the area for years.

"It just makes me very sad in my heart that the city would make this decision and not only disrupt their life, but the lives of the other residents."

Sandy Melo says the change would be devastating for the women at Spruce Gardens because along with losing their independence, they would be losing the home they've come to love.

No word from the city on how those impacted by the project will be compensated for losing their homes. If the $60 million project goes forward, it is projected to be completed by late 2015.

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Bakersfield, CA