Four Kings County Towns Could Soon Get a Makeover

May 27, 2008 9:34:26 PM PDT
In the South Valley, there's concern not just about homes but entire communities that have been on the decline for decades.Most of Kettleman City's downtown strip is behind me and as you can see there aren't very many stores or businesses here. Now, county leaders hope to change that by revitalizing Kettleman City and other small rural communities in Kings County.

Ammar Alyfia has owned this store in Kettleman City for eight years. He says there's plenty of room for improvement in this rural pit stop.

Ammar Alyfia, Kettleman City: "The water nobody can drink it, it's a lot of stuff in this town that have to be changed."

15-hundred people live in this small farming community. Downtown is mix of undeveloped land, vacant buildings and struggling stores. But Kettleman City and three other rural towns are about to get a facelift in the next phase of Kings County's general plan.

Greg Gatzka, County Planner: "We want to try to revitalize the existing communities and try to make sure that any new growth is reinforcing that central core."

The county is focusing on four rural communities to revitalize in its general plan: Armona, Kettleman City, Stratford and Home Garden.

Planners want each community to gain its own identity which they hope will eventually instill pride in living there.

Gatzka: "Armona for instance had a very rich past in the late 1800s where it was the railroad hub of the whole step for fruit distribution."

Gatzka says they've even had suggestions from older Armona residents to bring back a railroad identity to the town. County leaders hope this revitalization will bring economic growth. And to help make that happen, these areas will be designated as "enterprise zones" by the state. This means business owners who start up in these rural areas will be eligible for attractive tax incentives. Still, bringing in businesses could be difficult.

John Lehn, KC Econ: "A significant amount of the struggle is in the lack of infrastructure once they have the infrastructure then they'll be able to attract more businesses, the businesses will then attract more population."

Right now county planners are looking at how to revitalize Stratford then they'll move onto the Home Garden community. They hope to have all these plans ready for the general plan by the end of the year.


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