Constructed in the early 1920's, Central Park has been a Bakersfield landmark. The park is located between 19th and 21st Streets and Q and V Streets, covering almost 6 acres. In 2009, the park was ready for a facelift. Diseased trees were removed, lawn areas renovated, new restroom facilities added, WiFi hot spots were installed, new playground equipment and ADA surfacing were added. Walking and biking paths were added along with a covered bridge to link the east side of the canal with the west. The bridge has become the backdrop to many special events and wedding and graduation photos. The canal improvements in the previous phase had widened it into the park to create a pond which has become home to several varieties of waterfowl. These improvements help Central Park to welcome visitors once again.
The playground at Central Park received new equipment and surfaces, utilizing ADA friendly surfaces and play sets. The Mill Creek theme runs through the playground with its own "river" set into the surfacing. Benches were added at the perimeters and restroom facilities situated to the east.
New restroom facilities were constructed next to the play area on the northeast corner of the park.
Designed by Aaron Meyer, the bridge's structural components were prefabricated and transported to Bakersfield, where it was seated on prepared foundations. Completed with wood construction methods for the rafters, ceiling, and topped with a standing seam metal roof, this bridge has an iconic historic feel complementing the other features of Central Park. Pressed and colored concrete paving was used to complete the decking.
Walking and biking between beautiful landscaping and the gently flowing water of Mill Creek were the key elements of the linear park. Various color and textured finishes were utilized for the paving of the meandering paths. Some portions were pressed and colored to mimic brick pavers, other portions resemble stone pavers while other areas are cut concrete on a diamond grid. Hand rails and guardrails were installed for safety. Directly on the west side of the bridge is a large area showcasing the Mill Creek symbol, the paddle wheel, in the concrete paving.
Careful consideration was given to park amenities and placement of each was planned with attention to location of each element. Benches were placed so as to make the best use of the canal and other water features, tucked into areas to keep pedestrian and bicycle traffic flowing without obstruction. A number of the landscape planters also provide a cool spot to sit and relax. Drinking fountains were located within specified distances giving opportunity for hydration at convenient spots along the walking path. Overhead lighting is provided by the period-style light standards, while more intimate lighting is provided by lighted bollards next to each park bench. The wrought-iron guardrails between brick-faced pilastersalong the canal banks, contribute to public safety, while maintaining the atmosphere of the park. The park also contains a number of WiFi hotspots for visitors.
The Central Park Weir is situated adjacent to 19th Street. It was the built during the first phase of the Mill Creek Project with crews working to complete construction during a three week window in December of 2008 when the Kern Island Canal was closed for maintenance. Meyer Civil Engineering, Inc. designed the reinforced concrete panels for production off-site. Once the initial work was finished, the canal bed was ready to receive the panels, which were delivered to the site, set in place, sealed and finished. The intake structure was built, control gates placed, grating and a maintenance walkway was completed, during this very slim timeline. The weir structured allows the water to back up to a predetermined level forming a lake in the park. The water spills over the edge in a waterfall effect. The submerged gates can be adjusted to allow water levels in the canal to remain consistent on the surface regardless of the amount of water the district needs to move to farms and businesses south of Bakersfield.