Bakersfield High Was Never At Risk – But That Didn’t Stop HSR Critics

Jun 10th, 2010 | Posted by

The big HSR news in California this week was the decision of the Bakersfield planning department to rescind its recommendation of the “Blue Line” option for HSR, even though it had a lesser impact on the community than the “Red Line,” due to overblown concerns about the impact on Bakersfield High School.

Hundreds of current and former Bakersfield High School students overflowed City Council chambers Wednesday night to voice their opposition to a proposed High-Speed Rail line that some believe would have meant the destruction of the historic downtown campus.

They got what what they came for — before the meeting even began.

Hours before the Bakersfield City Council was expected to consider a recommendation that could have routed a High-Speed Rail platform right through the north end of 117-year-old campus, the city planning department pulled its recommendation supporting the much-criticized “blue line.”

Bakersfield High alumni and students were up in arms over the proposed Blue Line, because it would have had some impacts on their campus. Students Community members started a Facebook group to “Save Bakersfield High School, and there was a lot of discussion and claims that the Blue Line option would “destroy” the campus.

In fact, as we found when we first discussed this last month, the Blue Line would have taken out one building on campus. That’s it. The building could have been moved to another location on the campus. Here’s a map indicating the situation, taken from this CHSRA rendering:

One building would have been impacted. Not the whole campus. But comments from school officials fanned the flames into something much bigger, according to the Facebook group:

Right now, Bakersfield High School is in danger as the routes for the California High Speed Rail system are being plotted. At the very least, one of the routes would require the removal of the IT building, and the route runs so near Harvey Auditorium that the Kern High School District board members have mentioned moving BHS to a new site to “mitigate damages.”

Really? Moving BHS entirely? That is unwarranted based on the route choices. KHSD board members seem to have been making irresponsible speculation here.

But what’s really behind this outpouring of concern is a sense that any change to BHS will undermine the school’s history and people’s memories of BHS. Seriously. They are willing to accept another option, the Red Line, that might require taking of houses simply to preserve memories. Here’s an example from the discussion forums on the Save BHS Facebook group:

I am a resident in Bakersfield, CA and though I believe the high-speed rail is a brilliant idea and look forward to the future with it, I am concerned about the routes in which your board is proposing. I am a graduate of Bakersfield High School (the school that will be effected if the blue line should be chosen). Do you know what will happen if you choose that course? Generations of families that have matriculated through that school will lose their precious memories and future generations of those families will no longer get the opportunity to walk the same halls as those before them. BHS is the OLDEST school in Kern County, yet your board has no qualms about tearing down the oldest building on campus for innovation?

This is ridiculous. People will “lose their precious memories” if a building is torn down or moved? Are you kidding me? That’s not a serious or defensible position. One’s memories exist as long as you have them. I have plenty of memories of things that no longer exist, yet the memories remain strong.

Further, schools undergo major changes all the time. My high school, Tustin High School in Orange County, was originally built in 1921. It was demolished in the 1960s because it wasn’t seismically sound and totally rebuilt in a completely different plan. Since I left in 1997 the school has undergone further significant renovation that makes the campus look different from when I was there.

As far as current students are concerned, some of their opposition to the Blue Line is driven by their own research into the school’s history, and their desire to preserve it for future generations.

As a historian myself, I can’t fault students for that stance. At the same time, I think they misunderstand how history works.

History – the study of history in particular – is the study of change. Historians do not look at things that have stayed the same, they look at things that have changed and WHY they have changed. That concept is hard for people to understand at first, because the equate “history” with “antiquarianism.” But history is in fact the study of change, because history is full of change.

Bakersfield in 2010 doesn’t look or act the way it did in 1960, or in 1930, or in 1880. Those changes happened, but they were not inevitable. Historians seek to understand why change happened.

And good historians therefore understand that change will continue to happen here in the present day. More importantly, historians also understand that it is futile, and often damaging, to try and prevent change from occurring.

When it comes to historical preservation, we need to strike a balance between preserving things that we find valuable and not letting the “dead hand of the past” stop us from doing things in the present day that are necessary to our quality of life and prosperity here and now. We are only able to live the lives we do because previous generations did NOT let historical preservation concerns stop them from building the power lines, aqueducts, freeways, and housing that we now have today. (Whether or not you think the way we did those things was sound, they are the key elements of the lives we live today.)

One Bakersfield resident understands this, writing in the Bakersfield Californian yesterday:

In this day and age, it’s very easy to criticize, and honestly, the majority of time the criticism is earned. But this approach fails to capture the scope of the project and its potential rewards. You can’t make an omelet unless you are willing to break some eggs, and it is without question that high-speed rail is a very fancy omelet….

It’s time America wakes up to our reliance on very old technology and face facts. Staying with the old and familiar will cost us our future. Our industrial leadership will continue to decline as naysayers and Chicken Littles, along with some popular politicians, increasingly see progress and progressive agendas as un-American.

Japan began the high-speed train revolution nearly 50 years ago and Europe 40 years ago. Paris and London were linked by high-speed rail in 1994. If America is going to remain competitive — and there is serious doubt we can — it will be with projects like California high-speed rail, which will put our industrial know-how and ability back in the running.

But from what I hear and read, the inclination is to not only do nothing, but move backward. It’s complaining about taxes and illegals while the real prize is lost. Doing nothing will result in the loss of industrial leadership, with even more high-tech jobs going to Asia and Europe.

Can we really afford to become a second- or even third-rate nation? Are we ready to sink to a lower standard of living because we just do not have the vision to invest in tomorrow? Education is no different!

Do we want a better reality tomorrow? Reading the comments printed in The Californian, it’s pretty clear we don’t. The generalization I reach is that the majority is more concerned about protecting its small piece of the pie. Period. No new taxes. Lower educational standards, larger classrooms and closed libraries and public parks is the agenda for Kern County.

I don’t get the impression all the concern about the HSR route in Bakersfield is about an unwillingness to spend money. But we are seeing a repeat of the same unwillingness to part with the status quo. It would be one thing if BHS were going to indeed be demolished. But it’s not. BHS and the Bakersfield community as a whole are going to have to adapt to the needs of the 21st century. There are ways they can do so that don’t require total abandonment of the past. But neither is the past, and “memories,” so important that we have to stop all innovation and preparation for the future.

UPDATE: I’m very glad to see some of the Bakersfield activists posting in the comments. They seem supportive of HSR as a concept, which is welcome. We may have to agree to disagree on the question of whether BHS will be negatively impacted if the IT building is moved or rebuilt elsewhere on the campus, but it is a good discussion. One BHS alum, Chris L, made what I thought was a truly excellent comment. He proposed the following, which I want to endorse:

Robert, if I were the CAHSR, I’d approach Kern Schools to find out what their criteria are for a “viable comprehensive campus” and make changes to guarantee that the whole of BHS, the IT building notwithstanding, is not lost to your blue line.

This would be a very good idea. I hope the CHSRA has already been doing this. If not, they need to get on it right away.

UPDATE 2: I should be clear here – I’m NOT saying the Blue line is the only option. If Bakersfield really doesn’t want it, I’m not going to say people there have to accept it. I just disagree with the reasons being given for opposing it.

  1. Spokker
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 16:43

    This comment by Matthew is too good not to post again.

    “I thought democracy worked by organizing official polls where people could vote for or against something. The city of Bakersfield seems to have made its decision based on an unofficial, unannounced “poll” where the only option was to vote against the development of infrastructure by joining a facebook group. A group of people equivalent to approximately one percent of the Bakersfield population joined the group, and there is no indication what percentage of those people actually live in the city. I know this is how government often works, but it’s depressing. Apparently it’s amateur hour at the Bakersfield planning department.”

    Yeah, what is this bullshit? The high speed rail vote in 2008 was about 50/50, a slight win in Kern County altogether, so there is obviously some debate. Where did they think the trains were going to go? Did the think California bonds would pay for invisible trains? The route map has always shown trains going through Bakersfield, not the middle of nowhere.

    Some people really care about a viaduct being built near the school. Some people don’t. It’s irresponsible to make any actual decisions based on the demands of the uninformed few.

    Peter Reply:

    Could this maybe have anything to do with the fact that it’s an election year? Are they just trying to avoid taking responsibility for endorsing something that could be controversial?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Matthew’s point is very good. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now, and I think it’s time to get these ideas down in blog post form.

    This goes back to the CEQA problem, where true public engagement isn’t emphasized. But it also doesn’t help that some city councils – like Palo Alto – apparently have failed to try and engage all their constituents, and prefer to just listen to the loudest voices.

    Kevin Frye Reply:

    So should “uninformed” citizens simply sit on the sidelines “Spokker”?
    If the taxpaying, voting citizens of a community do not want to be pushed around by a larger government authority it is their right and duty to speak up. It is easy to omit facts that are part of a discussion when they suit you argument. Some people might even think you are hip because you enjoy insulting the people of a community because they have a differing opinion. No less through a public blog where you hide your identity behind a silly pseudonym.

    The facts are that the blue line actually removes no less then eight buildings associated with the campus plus a parking lot critical to the campus. A campus and a school that stands as an important piece of history for literally a few hundred thousand people. One of the most prestigous public schools, certainly in the state, overflowing with a heritage so rich that those who know it are willing to defend it from those blinded by “progressive” ideas. The Bakersfield community, our state and the country for that matter are great because we have a great history that reminds us of what we are capable of, what we have accomplished, and drives us towards our future endeavors with a sense of continuity tat has value far beyond any train.

    It is critical that local communities stand up for their rights and fight for what they believe in regardless of what a bunch of bloggers think about Bakersfield High School and the people who still cherish it is a valuable asset to their community. Again and again communities are pushed aside in the name of progress. It has been happening for no less than 40 years in California and unfortunately it will be our ruin.

    Wake up Bakersfield, wake up Central Valley, wake up California. No matter what opinion you hold it is time to take action, pay attention, speak up and be heard. That is how things get done. Even with a small Facebook group has power to impact government decisions.

  2. Bobierto
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 16:55

    My high school was torn down and rebuilt, and it did have a weird effect on my memories. The high school that I went to no longer exists. An institution with its name, and its location exists, but it’s not my high school. So, I kinda, get the complainers’ issues. BUT … 1) they weren’t going to tear down BHS, and 2) I’m glad they tore my high school down – I’m happy for the kids that get to go to a nicer school than I did. Their welfare is more important than my precious memories.

  3. wenchance
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 17:52

    The thing that worries me the most about this is that this may give leverage for school on the SF Peninsula to reject HSR because it will interfere with their “traditions”. I know 2 schools (San Mateo High and Burlingame High) that would probably use this motive to oppose HSR on the Peninsula and sadly my school is in the same district that these schools are…I just hope that we don’t band together and protest HSR. That would be horrible.
    Also, it really upsets me when a project that provides so many benefits and will help the overall welfare of California in the future is side tracked just to keep a small portion of the citizens in a local high schools’ memories intact. In weighing the overall benefits of the the project vs. the risks of losing a local school (which won’t even happen). I would believe most HSR supports and people that promote smart innovation would continue to pursue the idea not let the past get to them.
    If I went to this school I would probably be the only high-school that you would here in the news opposing the school rather than the “blue line”.

  4. Elizabeth
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 19:46

    You don’t think sending trains at 220 mph over a high school is a little weird?

    Peter Reply:

    You don’t think that having an active freight railyard next to a high school is a little weird?

    Dennis Lytton Reply:

    I consider routing a freeway next to schools, of which there must be hundreds of examples in California, as much more “weird”. A freeway has a much larger noise, spatial, and environmental footprint than does HSR yet HSR carries more people. Weird.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Strange values are associated with this project…freeways and railroad yards next to high schools and HSR is yet a monster? the red line is almost as bad with a medical center near it and of course next to that railyard. they might have to go right down the middle of that yard ..if BNSF will let them ..

    Peter Reply:

    Sound walls and triple-glazed windows would probably help mitigate the issue of the medical center. Vibrations will not be an issue in any way (continuous welded rail, light trains, well-maintained tracks (definitely much better than the freight tracks adjacent)). The school would be more affected due to the removal of the IT building (?), but sound walls would likely solve the noise problem.

    rafael Reply:

    On a techie tidbit note, there’s also structure-borne noise and vibration. If need be, that could be mitigated by using not regular but floating slab track in a short section near the school.

    What I find most annoying about this is the notion that an information technology building is considered historical at all. When did we start using computers and the internet, again? The nineties? Ok, the architecture actually is a 100 years old and in a state that’s not much older, that matters. Nevertheless, it’s not like anything in California, or the US as a whole, is a gothic cathedral or Stonehenge. This is a young state and country and it stays that way by permanently re-inventing itself. Omelets and eggs, ’nuff said.

    As long as the educational functionality provided by building is preserved in (a) new building(s) elsewhere on campus and, the old building is fully documented by qualified historians, there ought to be room for compromise. Or would you really rather have HSR impact a hospital on the red alignment alternative?

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I would like to reply to Rafael, and preface this by saying I am not an alumni. That being said, Before you spout off you should get your facts straight. The “I” stands for industrial, as in industrial arts which is no longer being offered in any other school in our city. That means shop classes, cabinet making classes, drafting, automotive classes, agricultural green houses, etc. That just shows how old it is that people do not even remember IT stands for something other than technology. There are motor lifts, hoists, drill presses, huge table saws, specialized watering systems for ag classes, etc. You all talk about it being just a building and we shouldn’t be upset. . I am an elementary educator who truly believes we need to educate all our students to become viable productive adults. If the HSR commission tears out the IT building on this campus, it tears out those classes. They talk about moving this to another location on campus. The campus is smack dab in the middle of town, there is no place to move it. Also, with the budget of the California schools being totally disimated, do you really think there is money to move it?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The CHSRA would be obligated to pay for moving the building. They wouldn’t be allowed to just demolish it and leave Bakersfield to pick up the tab of reconstituting the building and its programs.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Also, with the budget of the California schools being totally disimated”

    Half the state budget goes to education.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    apparently the decimation has been going on for a long time.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Just look at that picture from above. BHS and the BNSF yard have probably been next to each other for many decades without any problems. (At least that I know of.)

    Leandra Reply:

    Just a small comment here… longer post below. Yes, the rail yard and BHS have been next to each other for many years without “problems,” though teachers will say that the noise is disruptive to classes. As a student there, I think I became acclimated to it though, so I don’t really remember it as a problem. Also, high-speed trains are generally quieter than freight trains, so noise isn’t an issue. The removal of a historical building that houses unique programs– that could not simply be relocated to other buildings– IS a problem.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    You say this:

    “The removal of a historical building that houses unique programs– that could not simply be relocated to other buildings– IS a problem.”


    Why is that such a huge problem that another route that has more impact on homes and businesses has to be chosen?

    I saw on the Facebook group a list of BHS buildings that no longer stand. Surely there was a good reason why they’ve been torn down, just like there was a good reason the original building for the high school I attended was torn down.

    My point is that all of this activism does not seem justified by a concern to save a single building. If it were the entire campus, I might understand, though even then there have been campuses torn down and moved elsewhere and it works out fine.

    I don’t mean to be dismissive, it just seems to me that the concerns over this building are overstated.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Yes… many buildings have come down. The school no longer needed dormitories in which students could live. Some buildings came down to create new buildings. The demolition of one building in 1938 created “Elm Grove,” the place where students can congregate during lunch because not everyone can fit into the cafeteria. Tents were put up in Elm Grove during 1936-1940 for the “Dust Bowl” students. Those definitely were no longer needed.

    But as far as why these buildings came down? For the most part they came down in the name of progress, yes, but because the campus may not have needed the building any longer, or because of damage caused by the earthquake in 1952. Not because another entity came in and said to do so.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My point is that in each of those instances, a decision was made that another use was more important than those buildings. I’m sure there are people who had memories of the dorms and missed them, but understood why they were being proposed to be removed.

    I understand that this looks like some state agency coming in out of nowhere and saying “gotta take your building.” But the people of California, including Kern County, did vote for the high speed rail proposal. The CHSRA is therefore obligated to deliver an efficient system that is cost-effective. The Blue line was one option they offered for how to do that.

    I should be clear here – I’m NOT saying the Blue line is the only option. If Bakersfield really doesn’t want it, I’m not going to say you have to accept it. I just disagree with the reasons being given.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    The person who commented on other buildings at BHS having already been torn down was incorrect. They were talking about other buildings in town, not BHS buildings. My comment is, that It is not just saving a single building, it is saving a curriculum that is not offered anywhere else in our community. That building houses hoists, lifts, a greenhouse, welders, huge table saws, etc. BHS tries to meet the needs of as many students as it can. BHS is not the “college mill” that other schools have become. They recognize that not every student in our community will end up in college and they offer them the chance to learn skills that may help them in the future. For those of you who say well put that building somewhere else. There is no somewhere else. It is the smallest campus in the district. I know many of you think it is a purely sentimental issue, for some it is, but for many, it is what is best for the students. I am not an alumni. I did not grow up in Bakersfield. I am an elementary educator who believes we should be meeting the needs of all students, not just the ones heading of to college.

    Sarah Purdy Reply:

    There is a difference from rail tracks being next to a school and being above a school. There is concern for the students overall safety.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We who support high speed rail take safety very seriously. But I’m not clear exactly what the concern is.

    The chance of a train jumping the tracks and falling on a student is virtually zero. Such an event is unheard of when it comes to high speed trains. They are extremely safe and have a safety record around the world that is impeccable.

    My high school, in addition to being located next to a freeway, was also in the flight path for John Wayne Airport in Orange County. I was in more danger from a plane falling out of the sky than any BHS student would ever be from these tracks above the school.

    Joey Reply:

    Crossing an average street poses several orders of magnitude more danger than this.

    William Rickman Reply:

    BUT – no part of the school has ever had to be demolished to accommodate them. And the school system has been hoping they would one day be REMOVED. Do you not see the already occurring problems and proposed ADDITIONAL problems with student safety? .

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    What was the school hoping would be removed? The train tracks? Given that there is a rail yard next to the school, that strikes me as a rather unlikely outcome.

    Part of my high school was demolished in the early 1990s to make way for a freeway widening project. It did not adversely impact my education. We got used to it very quickly.

    As I replied to Sarah above, I do not understand what the concern over student safety is. High speed trains simply do not jump the tracks and fall off of overhead structures. I do not believe there is a single instance of that ever happening in the nearly 50 years high speed trains have been operating around the world.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I think it’s very very weird that a train hundreds of feet away from the high school could be described as “over”

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    No, I don’t. Why would it be weird?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It come from standing under the Jerome Ave El waiting for the Bx63…. Over means when you look “up” there’s something there besides sky. Or being in the Loop under the L. Or huddling between the stanchions on Market Street waiting for the 25 Springfield Ave and hoping the IBOA bus comes because I only have a quarter and two dimes and the IBOA bus is 35 cents..

    Peter Reply:

    “Over” does not mean “north” of.

  5. Leandra
    Jun 10th, 2010 at 23:28

    The Facebook group was not created by students at Bakersfield High School. I created it, and I am not a student at BHS. I am a lawyer, who happens to be an alumnus of the school.

    Now, as for who has joined the group… Yes, there are Driller alumni, some who have had three to five generations in their family attend BHS. Many, too, are alumni of schools in Bakersfield other than BHS. All you have to do is read the comments posted to know that. There are alumni of schools that are traditionally rivals (and who would let you know that in a heartbeat), and they have stepped up to say they don’t want even one building lost on the campus when the Kern High School District says that the campus would no longer be a viable comprehensive campus. Translation: the campus would be forced to relocate or become a continuation school or a vocational school… which would mean that several other structures on the campus would fall into disuse– including Griffith Field, where countless football games have been played since 1923.

    Now, the specific building that would have to come down was constructed in 1923; the second portion of the building is from 1940. Both portions survived an earthquake in 1952, which destroyed most of the historic buildings in this town. Additionally, the architect on both portions was Charles Biggar, a renowned local architect. The IT building was actually a nation-wide example of a certain architectural structure. Not many buildings can claim that.

    As you may (or at least hopefully) know, any state-funded project must have an environmental impact report done, and is regulated by CEQA. Additionally, since federal funds are applied, the project is regulated by NEPA- the National Environmental Policy Act. This act was put in place specifically in part to prevent overzealous freeway construction from razing historic districts and buildings.

    The fact is, the school IS historical. It was the first school in Kern County, and by 1906 already had the reputation as a “top school,” when one alumnus reports that his family moved 270 miles just so he could attend BHS, then called Kern County High School. And who was in his graduating class? Future Governor of California and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Earl Warren.

    Most supporters of BHS weren’t asking that the high-speed rail go away; we were asking the City of Bakersfield to reconsider where they wanted the station to be if both routes would require the destruction of the IT building. Additionally, we were asking for clarification since the June 1st “Administrative Report” was the first time it was reported that both the blue and red routes would require the IT building to come down.

    I want the high-speed train to come to Bakersfield… but I also want to save a piece of history.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My view, as a historian, is this: just because something is old does not mean it has to be kept. Read again my story above of my own high school. It was one of the first high schools in Orange County – one of the “original 5” apparently. It was torn down in 1954 and the campus moved a few blocks away because of earthquake concerns.

    The HSR planners have taken great care to avoid impacts. They didn’t propose running it through where the IT building is out of recklessness or disregard, but because it was the only option given their other constraints on the corridor. They are following the existing rail line because that is the least disruptive option.

    I’m glad you support high speed rail. And I understand and appreciate the desire to save a piece of history. But human civilization sometimes has to let go of a piece of history in order to make new history. We should be careful and cautious about how we do that. In this instance, the route strikes me as justified – especially when the alternative, the Red Line, is slated to take out many more homes, places others feel is historic and has value to them.

    As I said, history is about change. We cannot preserve everything, nor do we need to. That doesn’t mean we just willy-nilly tear everything down that is old, but neither should it mean we protect everything as well. A balance must be found. And as I understand the plan here, the balance was found. One building, not a whole school, in exchange for a modern transportation system that is essential to Bakersfield’s future prosperity.

    I don’t suggest it’s easy to say “OK, the building can go.” But from my view, that seems the most sensible solution, the option with the lowest impact on the community.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Robert, you can not be serious! BHS IS, has been, and will continue to be an historical site – there is no question about it and it has nothing to so with the buildings being “old”!!! If you actually knew anything about Kern County, and Bakersfield in particular, you would recognize the historical signifiance of Bakersfield High School not only to the students past, present and future, but to the community for the past hundred years. BHS is an institution not only of learning and significant education, but an institution within the entire county.

    Having a high speed rail going through or even near any school campus is a very poor idea; one can not compare a high speed rail to the freight yard that is now beside the campus – that would be comparing a watermellon to an apple; can’t be done!

    I totally agree with Leandra in all that she stated in her “reply” – I welcome a high speed rail to Bakersfield; wonderful idea! However it does not make any sense to have that rail go through town when it could easily continue north and have it’s “station” in the area of the airport [just one suggestion].

    Yes, I am a 3rd. generation BHS graduate and love my school dearly; I also love my city and the red / blue lines proposed do serious damage to the city as it is regadless of high school afiliation!

    Marilynn Stotts [Runyan] BHS class of 1965 and in loving memory of:
    Beryl Henley [Stotts] & Richard Stotts class of 1939
    Tom Henley class of 1933 & Joe Henley class of 1936
    Ruth Smith [Henley] class of 1908 [with Earl Warren who attended all class runions]
    Joseph Smith class of 1907, Rachel Smith [Campbell] class of 1010, Samuel Smith class of 1922

    Rafael Reply:

    Best school in the county … watermellon (sic)

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Really, you’ve never had a typo? :)

    Peter Reply:

    Hehe, it was funny, though…

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Rafael: Don’t know where you got the “Best school in the county” – not from me…
    Watermellon was in refernce to the HSR in comparison to the current freight yard [apple]…

    Peter: My great Aunt Rachel graduated in 1910 – glad you found that amusing; I think you need to get a life…

    Leandra: Thank you for your continued support; Once a Driller, ALWAYS a Driller….

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, Marilyn, I think you need to learn to take a joke. People are saying how BHS goes back so many years, and you wrote that someone graduated in 1010. That IS funny, even to people who have a life.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Peter: It’s Marilynn [2 n’s] – again it seemed strange that the typo was what you chose to focus on – I have taught Ancient Civilizations for years so the 1010 would have been very easy for me to overlook… And BHS does go back m a n y years, as you know.

    Peter Reply:

    Right, 2 n’s. The woman who works next to me is Marilyn with 1 n, so please forgive me.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Common error -not a problen…

    Peter Reply:

    Rachel Smith [Campbell] class of 1010. Impressive.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    She was a very impressive lady and an exceptional educator as well…

    Peter Reply:

    I wasn’t mocking her. You need to not take blog comment humor personally.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Sorry, but when things / people are close to my heart I do tend to take things personally… And she loved history so the 1010 may be appropriate :)

    Peter Reply:

    Fair enough. We, well, maybe not Spokker ;) , are trying to simply come up with ways to have the project have the least impact while still being cost-effective.

    We understand the pride you have in your school. What we cannot understand is how you can argue that students will be negatively impacted by HSR when the school is already located adjacent to a major railyard and the BNSF line. Sound, vibration, all of those things can and will be mitigated.

    The IT building would have to be removed for the blue line, but as others have stated, that would not remove your history or your memory.

    HSR is about moving California into the future, not hanging on to the past. Maintaining the status quo is not sustainable for California or the U.S.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Why do you say that the noise of 220 elevated rail will be mitigated? Our understanding is that it is actually quite difficult, given the low frequency of the noise.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    See my response to Robert below…

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Peter, Removing the IT building would negatively impact future students at BHS for the simple reason: No IT building, No industrial arts classes. The school is the only school in Kern County’s high school district that offers anything resembling industrial arts. Maybe you are too young to remember this, but high schools used to offer automotive classes, shop classes, welding classes, woodworking classes. Classes that would prepare students who were not college bound for vocations in the trades. We still need theses trades in society today. We need plumbers, carpenters, mechanics,etc., but most high schools do not offer these classes any longer. BHS does. I just attended a conference for teachers and I learned some interesting facts. Do you know the drop out rate of high schools students? 1 in 3 students who enters high school drops out. And of those that drop out 80% end up in prison. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a high school give some of these students an opportunity to learn a trade rather than dropping out and having to support them in our prison system later? BHS is trying to do just that. You take away the IT building and you take away someones future. I know that’s a little dramatic, but as a teacher, I truly believe that.

    Spokker Reply:

    Are all those dead people against high speed rail too?

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    I’m not against HSR [as I said before] and I’m sure “all those dead people” would find the prospect of the HSR, placed in an appropritate space, to be very exciting and very progressive…

    Peter Reply:

    Ok then, Marilyn, you tell us where you want HSR to go…

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    Still 2 n’s Peter…
    It just makes more sense and be more cost effective that since the HSP would be going north/south why take it east into town at all? The airport is north of town and having the HSR “station” in the same general location would be the ideal solution.

    Peter Reply:

    The idea is not to provide HSR service between airports. We’re not trying to build a feeder system for the airlines. If an airport is along a convenient route, then a station there may make sense. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get from downtown to downtown. Not from airport to airport. We already have planes for that purpose.

    Also, if you look at the overall routing choices, you’ll see that the Authority plans to cut east and reach LA over the Tehachapis, not the Grapevine, for many technical reasons.

    You say that building it to the airport is the “ideal” solution. No solution is ideal from all perspectives. It depends on what your objectives are.

    That’s why the route is planned through the city, not around it.

    Spokker Reply:

    Where’s the nearest black neighborhood in Bakersfield that we can jam this through, then?

    Hey, it worked for freeways ;)

    Rafael Reply:

    Whoa, that’s why there are now environmental justice laws on the books. Robert Moses is dead and that’s a Good Thing(tm).

    Matthew Scott Bergin Reply:

    Why dont we just demolish the Statue of Liberty… I am sure we could find something better we can put there…………. High Speed Rail anyone?

    Spokker Reply:

    My great-great-grandfather came to this country and the first thing he saw was Bakersfield High School, and he knew that a great land of opportunity awaited him and his family.

    dave Reply:

    When you compare your “historic” High School to the Statue of Liberty, your taking it too far. Real American History is different the the “History” that you have personally at a school long ago.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I never said BHS is not historic. It certainly is. But that doesn’t mean it cannot ever change. History does not mean “frozen in time.”

    But here’s the real issue. You write:

    “Having a high speed rail going through or even near any school campus is a very poor idea; one can not compare a high speed rail to the freight yard that is now beside the campus – that would be comparing a watermellon to an apple; can’t be done!”

    Why is it a very poor idea? Why is it any different or worse than a freeway or a freight yard next to a campus? You assert that it’s a bad idea – but you need to show us, explain to us, why it is a bad idea.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    It is my understanding that the HSR is on an elevated “track” which in itself poses safety issues and putting such additional safety risk possibilities near any campus is a poor idea. In addition, the unavoidable noise, vibration, and natural distraction [from children’s curiousity and wanting to “look at the train”] would be factors to be considered; none of which are desirable next to any school setting.

    The freight yard currently next to the BHS campus, while a busy site, is not equal to nor comparable to the HSR in my opinion. The freight yard is not really visable from most of the camous, the noise is minimal, and the freight yard is not a distraction to the students. I am aware of this because I did attend BHS, and I lived just a couple of block away on Oleander Ave.

    I have been a member of, chairperson of, organizer of several school Crisis Response Teams and just the thought of a HSP system next to a school campus sends chills down my spine at the thought of what could happen in the event of an emergency. Of course no one antiipates that there will ever be such an emergency, however, it only takes once for a total disaster [and since we live in prime earthquake country….] Not to mention possible emergency problems with the rail line itself.

    I’ve been an educator for several decades and student, of all ages, safety is a primary concern for me and I vew the HSR as an unnecessary safety risk if it is placed near any school campus.

    Peter Reply:

    There have been a number of accidents involving HSR. The only one that involved loss of life (not counting people or cars crossing the tracks, which would not be an issue at BHS) was in Germany when a derailing train took down a bridge and the cars smacked into that.

    Earthquake safety is dealt with in a number of ways. The primary method is to immediately kill power to trains the moment an earthquake is detected that is strong enough to be a threat. This system works, as was demonstrated in Japan in a real-life earthquake.

    The best way to prevent loss of life in high speed rail derailments is by keeping the train cars aligned with the tracks. That can be done in a number of ways. Sound walls alone would help dramatically to keep the trains from departing the aerial structure.

    Rafael Reply:

    The following computer simulation suggests that Bakersfield could experience a VI-VII on the Mercalli scale of shake intensity if there were a 7.8 quake on the southern San Andreas. That might be enough to damage historic masonry buildings, but a long way from actually derailing a high speed train – let alone toppling support columns built to the latest seismic codes.

    The Industrial Arts building, which I believe is the one the fuss is all about, was extensively retrofitted after a 7.5 earthquake on the White Wolf fault in 1952. That’s a secondary fault running (roughly) between Wheeler Ridge and Caliente. The epicenter was near Tejon Pass.

    See also our earlier post Shake, Rattle and Roll. Only a single HSR train has ever derailed in an earthquake. There were no casualties at the time and JR engineers have since come up with modifications that increase the chances of keeping a train upright even if it did jump its tracks. That said, evacuating a train carrying hundreds of passengers that gets stranded on 60′ viaduct would in and of itself be a challenge.

    Note that floating slab track would behave differently in an earthquake than the much stiffer regular kind, in addition to mitigating structure-borne noise and vibrations during nominal operations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ve been an educator for several decades and student, of all ages, safety is a primary concern for me and I vew the HSR as an unnecessary safety risk if it is placed near any school campus.

    And what’s your position on letting them drive to school?

    Peter Reply:

    HSR is in fact statistically the SAFEST way to travel. End of story.

    Marilynn Stotts Reply:

    …however the students are not taking the train to school, and I don’t think HS students should be driving to school either – I walked to BHS, as did my friends, and my sons walked to their HS as well – as they should have…

    Peter Reply:

    The safest way to travel, as in, the train will not pose a safety risk to the neighborhood. That’s what I meant. I’m sorry that I didn’t quite make that clear.

    Cynthia Keith Reply:

    You keep saying “only one building”. That’s one too many. Let’s remove your kitchen-it’s only one room. But it would have a big impact on the whole, wouldn’t it? If we give “one building” to you, what’s to say that will be enough. Who else will come along & decide they need “one building”? Just because they tore your school down & you’re OK with it, doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to tear ours down. Yes, we are sentimental, but without that a lot of history in our country would have been torn down.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We have to make difficult choices. As I said elsewhere, if another route is chosen, someone’s farmland will be taken. Or someone’s kitchen may well be taken.

    In other parts of the state, I have argued this is sometimes necessary. It should be limited as much as possible, but it is not the end of the world if and when it occurs. Nobody is proposing tearing down BHS.

    Wanda Reply:

    Robert, you are a piece of work. You have gone all over this state and argued about this as you have said. You do not have this communities best interests at heart. The hsr being located downdown? What is downtown that someone from LA would want to visit? And when they got here they would have to take a taxi or the GET bus to get there. Why not put hsr somewhere else and have the same accomodations? And also more parking for the outgoing passengers?

    Spokker Reply:

    Eminent domain can and will be exercised for public projects. It’s not about some poor bastard’s kitchen or some sentimental person’s IT building, but the transportation needs of the entire state.

    This can be a problem with smaller cities though, where anything and everything is a monument. The high school I went to is one of many, many schools in the area and it was 90 percent Hispanic so no one gave a shit about it or us.

    marjorie bell Reply:

    Thanks, Leandra, for all your hard work on this issue. The people of Morro Bay on the coast woke up one morning to find PG&E building a huge power plant right in front of Morro Rock, and the public was furious because they had no imput nor recourse after the plant was started. I don’t want that to happen in this instance to lose a valuable community resource because decisions were made behind the backs of the public! Harvey Auditorium (the envy of most high schools and even colleges throughout the nation as an exemplary performing arts center) is definitely at risk. It’s not just another building. What Sacramento doesn’t seem to get is that there are living, breathing, intelligent people down here who care about their community and the quality of life here. Why wasn’t Golden State Highway down the Union corridor considered seriously? This route would disrupt no hospitals, residential areas or even major businesses. In my book, that route needs to be reconsidered. This is a route that most of us could live with. The station could be located at about Union and Truxtun, and the current Amtrack Station on Truxtun could be moved also (although it would be only about three blocks away). Yes, a high speed rail running within half a block from Harvey Auditorium would do serious damage to our school.

  6. Sarah Purdy
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 00:13

    I am one of the people this author quoted and in the full letter that I wrote to the Authority I also said that I disapprove of the Red Line as well. Yes, saving BHS is my first and foremost concern, but I also do not think that homes, churches, businesses and a hospital should be affected. Maybe he should have read the entirety of the letter before quoting me to just be concerned of a school.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I did see your whole letter and you make a good point. But I would ask this: given the other constraints and needs of the system, which indicate that both the Red and Blue lines are the options with the least impact to the city of Bakersfield as a whole, doesn’t it make sense to save some homes by using the Blue line option, even if that means sacrificing a building on campus?

    This project has been in the planning stages for 10 years, and that long process has indicated these two routes are the best option with the least impact. I don’t suggest it’s easy to agree to see an old building make way for a new piece of infrastructure. But neither does it seem to be all that negative an impact in the end, especially given the costs of the other option.

  7. Anna
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 01:43

    I think you wrote this just to be spiteful. The students and faculty at BHS know that they are talking about only removing one building, but we feel like the school should be left untouched. I am a graduate and I don’t think my memories have anything to do with the structure of the school, but the fact that so many generations have memories at that school make it unique. I don’t think you were trying to make the point that the school will not be destroyed, you are trying to mock us for our attempt to preserve it. You don’t actually care about our feelings behind it, you just want to take what we say and make fun of it. I am proud to stand up for my school and I will love it no matter where it is located, but it is people like you who just want to ridicule just to ridicule and the fact that you write this whole blog to “set us straight” is sad. We know what we are standing up for, and we will continue to do it. Just be nice!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I apologize if it came off as spiteful, it wasn’t the intent. I did not mock your efforts, I just took issue with the assumptions behind it. As someone who attended a school impacted by a transportation project, I didn’t agree that the heritage or experience of BHS would be negatively impacted by this proposal, since the heritage and experience of my school survived the freeway widening just fine. Heck, it survived a total demolition of the entire campus in 1954 just fine.

    Under the Blue line proposal, BHS would still be there. The heritage would be preserved. One building would be gone, replaced by a newer building that would be the basis for new memories of new generations of BHS students.

    As I said in reply to others, I don’t expect that to be an easy thing to accept. But it does seem the best and most reasonable solution given the overall constraints on the project.

    Chris Reply:

    Robert, I am sorry if you do no feel the same for your alma mater, and I am not going to compare yours to BHS. Let us just sum that up as it is not as simple as ‘relocating’ a building, or campus. I am going to try an alternate approach. Would you move, destroy, or alter Wrigley Field (built 1914)? How about Fenway Park (opened 1912)? Both places younger than BHS, but they have history and tradition. They are the homes of many generations’ memories.

    Jennie Reply:

    Robert, I just feel you don’t see where we’re all coming from. This high school is part of Bakersfield’s history, it has withstand the tests of time. BHS is the heart of Bakersfield, when something happens to it- the city feels it.
    You know, I talked to my grandmother about this (she is a BHS alumni), I tell you, I have never really seen my grandmother get upset and angry at the same time until this subject was talked about. She said something that I totally agree with- all you guys see are dollar signs.
    The schools in the Kern High School District are basically a family- we’ll have our rivalries and such but you mess with one- well, you saw the group on facebook- not everyone in the group attended BHS, I for one, attended North High School.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I get that people see BHS as important. I respect that. But I do not see how one building equates to destruction of the campus. The building can be moved or rebuilt. That would not hurt the BHS community, at least as far as I can tell.

    wenchance Reply:

    That depends….what will be put in its place. If it only benefits a certain few and helps no body then I would say no. But if it is something that can greatly benefit the people and the state and can help people in need then I would have to say “yes” tear it down, because overall the ability to help others and the need for it should always come before keeping a tight hold on the past that sadly can’t really do anything now.

  8. Bob Somers
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:02

    First of all, BHS isn’t just an old high school. It was established in 1893 and is the third oldest high school in the United States.

    Secondly, that “one building” which the blue line cuts the oldest building on campus, dating back to pre-1900.

    Thirdly, let’s examine your quote:

    “History – the study of history in particular – is the study of change. Historians do not look at things that have stayed the same, they look at things that have changed and WHY they have changed. That concept is hard for people to understand at first, because the equate “history” with “antiquarianism.” But history is in fact the study of change, because history is full of change.”

    I’m not a Historian (I’m a Computer Engineer) but I understand and agree. However, to study change requires two things, the current and the past. To put it in engineering parlance (sorry if I make your head explode) it is impossible to measure change using a single point in time as a reference. We express change as a function of differing values over a range of time, and a range of time requires two points to define it.

    In other words, if Historians study change, you can’t just snap some photos, bulldoze everything, and look back fondly 20 years from now. You need historical artifacts, real things from the past to see the effect of change and study it.

    Lastly, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting past the alumni of Bakersfield High School. The city has tried countless times to build a new east-west freeway and every plan that has suggested moving, or significantly altering BHS has been rejected. Every one. If you’re interested in the historical relevance of the school, you can get more information here:

    I graduated from Bakersfield High School several years ago, but am 100% for the HSR. We absolutely need to improve our state’s horribly broken transportation infrastructure, and the HSR is a great step in that direction. I used to ride Amtrak from Bakersfield to Martinez on a weekly basis, and I can’t even imagine how much time I would have saved if I had been able to ride a 220mph train instead.

    However, writing a silly blog post whining about people not liking the blue line because it goes through their school is just as petty and ridiculous as the people you claim are silly for “treasuring their memories”. There are about a bazillion (technical engineering term) ways that the HSR could go through Bakersfield and the blue line just happens to be a bad choice. Do you really need to trash talk people for not wanting one of the most culturally and historically significant icons in their city destroyed? If so, you either have a superiority complex or are a very poor Historian. In this article, you come off as pompous and silly, and it’s difficult to take your post seriously, which is unfortunate, because you’re actually hurting the HSR cause by acting like a buffoon.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Again, I apologize if this came off as trash-talking, that wasn’t the intent. I’m not familiar with the history of the east-west freeway either.

    But I stand by my other points. History is about change, and often, that change means demolishing something from the past to create something for the future. Certainly we must be careful and cautious as to how we go about doing it, but neither should we rule it out entirely.

    If this proposal were considering demolishing the entire high school, then that would be one thing. But it isn’t. I stand by my point that if the best route means that one building on campus has to be torn down and replaced, that it’s worth doing. I don’t say it’s easy to see that building go. But neither do I think it’s such a disaster that it means the Blue line option is not worth supporting, given the impacts of the Red line route.

    You say “There are about a bazillion (technical engineering term) ways that the HSR could go through Bakersfield and the blue line just happens to be a bad choice.”

    I don’t think that’s true. This project has been in the planning phases for 10 years, and these two options were the ones that were arrived at after careful consideration of all the alternatives. The key is the existing BNSF rail corridor – using that means the least amount of intrusion to the city of Bakersfield. As we see, it doesn’t mean there is no intrusion, but given the logistical and engineering constraints, these two options were the best that could be offered.

    I appreciate your other points in support of the HSR project. I see this as a disagreement among supporters, which is both normal and productive.

    Brenda Harris Reply:

    I am a sixteen-year veteran teacher. Twelve of those years were spent at BHS. One of the major reasons that I love BHS even though I am not there anymore is the tradition and history involved there. “Once a Driller, Always a Driller” is not just a platitude, it is thread that runs through everyone who was (or is) ever connected with BHS. What amazed me the most about the school was how many times I would get stopped in the grocery store, (or any other store), when I was wearing my BHS staff shirt and people would tell me that they went there or someone in their family went there. People show up to the football games who don’t even have children there or are not even alumni. Whether that matters to you or not, that will change with the removal of the school. It is in human nature to connect with a place. Attitudes toward BHS will change. You cannot help that.
    One consistent argument that you continue to make through all of these blogs is that “it’s only one building.” Yes, it’s only one building. You claim that the campus will not be affected, yet the KHSD has said that it will move the school to another location. The district does not make the decision to move a 3,000 student populated school lightly. They have been considering the options of this move for a very long time. Will you petition the district that the campus not be relocated? From your tone and attitude, it sounds like will not bother. You can claim that it is only one building being torn down, but I do not believe your claim can be valid. And, moving the building is out of the question. Have you seen the size of that building? Tearing it down and moving it to “another location” is ludicrous, besides losing its historical value.
    You also claim that other schools have been torn down for various reasons. The ones you’ve posted were only 60 years old or less. How many have existed in the city before cars were on the road? Value does not come to a school because people go there. It comes to a school because people go there for generations. In one yearbook edition, we featured several pictures of three generations of BHS alumni. I was a yearbook teacher there for four years and there are yearbooks in the archives dating back to 1912. How many schools can actually claim this?
    You also imply that change is natural. It happens all the time. Yes, but not all change is good. Change should not automatically be embraced just because change happens.
    And I’m not sure I believe your claim that “these two options were the ones that were arrived at after careful consideration of all the alternatives.” Corporate planning includes many variables, but historical significance and value to the community often seem to be at the bottom of the priority list. Money and then expediency are usually at the top.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think the KHSD has to explain its comment about this requiring the school to move. I cannot imagine that actually being necessary. That comment they made strikes me as irresponsible and fanning the flames of unnecessary controversy. We need to be clear here – the HSR planners were not considering tearing down the entire school. That idea came from a few school officials.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not convinced that one building, even an old and historic building, is so important that it has to be preserved at the expense of other homes and buildings. I’m open to ideas about how we make this work.

    Finally, the point I made about these two options is true. I’ve been following this project and its planning for several years now. They have taken every effort to minimize the impact of this project on communities and neighborhoods. They would much rather prefer not having to go through a single building or house. I can assure you the HSR project did not propose the Blue line without serious and careful consideration of all their needs and constraints. Historical significance is part of that consideration. They have a mandate to plan this project within certain restrictions, including financial restrictions and the unwillingness of one of the major railroads, Union Pacific, to share their ROW.

    There is no way to build this that impacts nobody. For example, there’s discussion to your north, in Chowchilla, about whether the route should go through town (potentially impacting people living near the route) or whether it should go around town (potentially impacting farmers). Both would prefer it be moved away from them. But it has to go somewhere.

    I’m not saying it has to be the Blue line. But I don’t think it is good planning, or necessary to the community’s needs, to say that one building, even a historic one, is more important than the HSR system as a whole.

    I’m sure there’s a way to reconcile these needs, and I hope it is found.

    Erika Reply:

    I decided to post because you keep comparing your high school in Orange County to BHS. I think we are all trying to tell you that this comparison is not really the same.

    Brenda and Bob, thank you so much for trying to explain the Driller pride. Our city expands and grows everyday, yet this is still Bakersfield not Orange County. If your not a Driller, you just don’t get it. (I graduated BHS in 1992, and I don’t go to every game or drive around with a “once a Driller always a Driller” sticker on my car.) Driller pride really is an interesting phenomenon, yet as an alumni I get it. My family has lived two blocks from BHS since 1960. So far, we have had three generations of drillers. My point is that BHS has been a big part of many peoples lives. I support the railway and hopefully job opportunities that will help our economy. I feel there has to be a better way to make this work. I do agree with others that you are somewhat condescending and rude to those who want to keep all of the buildings on the BHS campus. I know it is seen as just one building ,but the school needs every building on campus if not more. If the building is not saved for the historical value, It should be saved for the the schools ever growing attendance.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t mean to be condescending, I just don’t agree that this one building is so important that we have to bend the rail project around it. That’s all.

    I’m very familiar with schools that have long traditions. BHS is not unique. It is meaningful to you, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like there’s never ever been a community with this level of attachment to a school or a place.

    I agree we should all seek ways to make this work. If there’s a solution that avoids taking the building without causing more, unnecessary losses of structures elsewhere, I’m all ears. I’m just saying I don’t agree with the notion that we cannot allow this one building to be impacted.

    marjorie bell Reply:

    Thanks, Brenda. Your comments make a lot of sense. Again, I’d like to suggest that a third route be considered, down next to the Golden State Hwy. to Union with a station at Union and Truxtun. My husband and I (longtime high school teachers in Bakersfield) believe that the Golden State/Union Avenue route is far preferable and less damaging to our community.

    Rafael Reply:

    Fwiw, I do understand that Bakersfield has been quite far (in terms of travel time and options) from Fresno, LA and the Bay Area for over a century. Being out in the boonies, as it were, forces a community to pull together and become self-reliant. Schools are a focal point for any community and BHS even predates the incorporation of the city by a few years. To the alumni, being a Driller = being from Bakersfield. It defines their personal identity to a much greater extent than Robert’s or Spokker’s High Schools define theirs, so it’s a highly emotional issue.

    Let’s try and rationalize the discussion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the building in question. This is actually located a block east of the one shown in the picture in Robert’s post.

    Tastes vary, but the exterior at least doesn’t even strike me as particularly aesthetic. The point is that it’s been there for donkey’s years, that it’s a psychological anchor point for BHS and hence, for the community at large. More importantly, tearing it down would give KHSD an excuse for doing shutting down BHS altogether and blaming it all on big, bad CHSRA. Considering past battles regarding a freeway, I suspect there’s a long-running feud between BHS alumni and Kern county bureaucrats. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

    Now, look at the satellite map from above: just one block south of the Industrial Arts building is a small park. If the building and the park were to trade places, as it were, the utility afforded by both would be maintained. I know it wouldn’t be the same, because history is not something you can buy. However, history is something you can make. Wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute to the local importance of this one building if CHSRA were to fund the construction of a successor to it, located just across the street, before tearing it down and restoring the park?

    By all means, hold a competition for local architects to at least see if any of them can come up with a design for both components that would respect the heritage while also providing the utility required for a 21st century High School. HSR is an investment in the future, the single best chance Bakersfield has ever had to drastically reduce travel times and costs to the rest of the state. Change is your friend.

    Peter Reply:

    Or remove 14th Street, relocate the building to the park, turn the area of the now-former 14th Street into a park up to the aerial’s ROW, and locate student parking beneath the aerial?

    dave Reply:

    My High school was established in 1891, does that make it historical. NO, only the people who had that much pride over their school thinks so. I honestly would not care if a building or two where to be removed their. If in the name of progress to a better world, transportation in this case.

    Bob Somers Reply:

    I don’t think anybody else would mind either since your high school did a poor job of teaching you the difference between their and there.

    wenchance Reply:

    I completely agree, I like my high school a lot too, but if a part of it needs to be taken away to better the country…then by all means do it!

  9. sarah purdy
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:15

    I don’t know if my first response was posted or not, but I am one of the people he quotes in this blog. In the rest of my letter to the Authority, I pleaded the case for not doing the red line as well. I feel that it is not fair to businesses, homes, churches or the hospital to be torn down either. I think Cruickshank should have read the whole letter instead of singling out one section to help his attack against the people who have strong ties to the school as it is.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It is posted – the system here on the blog requires me to approve new comments from first-time posters as a way to cut down on spam. I did not intend this post to be an attack – I disagreed with some of the assumptions I’d read.

  10. Class of ’10
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:33

    Suppose you’re a BHS student and you’re attending one of the in/famous rallies held every so often. Suppose you’re surrounded by other students whose name you don’t know. When the time comes to chant the “Yay blue, yay white” are you just going to sit there? No! You’re going to grab the waist of the person sitting next to you, whatever their name or social status may be, and you’re going to scream your little head off with them, because, when it comes down to it, they’re your family. You see, Driller pride is unexplainable; it knows no boundaries and has no shame. Driller pride is the heart of BHS; it lives in the students, the teachers, the lockers, hallways, Elm Grove, the ghosts in Harvey, and, yes, even the IT building. The recent meeting only saw a small taste of how strong it is, how connected it makes us. One can only feel it and know it by being a Driller, whether its for all four years, or for only two weeks; “Once a Driller, always a Driller” has never rang so true. We’re not just whining about our fear of lost memories, we’re standing up for our home, and, sure, it’s already next to a rail yard…a very distractingly loud rail yard! So what do you think a 200+ mph train is going to do to our learning environment– our living environment!? We are not being the unreasonable ones; it’s people like you asking us to give up part of out heart, part of our life, part of our family, so excuse us for requesting another route, because you can’t take just a piece; it’s all or nothing. But I guess it doesn’t matter that much anyway, because, complain all you want, that high speed rail isn’t touching anywhere near BHS; our fabulous Driller Pride is making damn sure of that.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Here’s what I don’t understand:

    “So what do you think a 200+ mph train is going to do to our learning environment– our living environment!?”

    How is it going to impact your learning environment? The trains will be very quiet, much quieter than the trains you currently deal with, and that have not adversely impacted your school’s community.

    I too know what it’s like to see a high school impacted by an infrastructure project. My high school lost part of its campus to a freeway widening project in the early 1990s. But our Tiller Pride, which isn’t quite as old as Driller Pride but does go back to 1921, survived it just fine.

    I understand why students and alumni feel attached to that building. But I also disagree with that attachment, and believe that the campus community would survive just fine if the building were gone. I don’t agree that for Driller Pride to be preserved, the building has to be preserved.

    But I do hope there is some sort of mutually acceptable solution to this that we can come up with.

    Rafael Reply:

    @ Robert –

    HSR trains are indeed much quieter than lumbering freight trains at the same speed. However, at 200mph, they are not quiet in an absolute sense. An aerial structure doesn’t dampen structure-borne noise and vibration as well as e.g. a retained fill embankment (which isn’t being considered for Bakersfield). In addition, a wider than usual area would be affected by airborne noise, on account of the great height (60′ above grade). Then again, distance also mitigates noise very effectively.

    It’s fair to ask CHSRA to at least roughly quantify these noise/vibration impacts of their concept at ground level and within nearby classrooms using computer simulations. In addition, they should seek to quantify the relative improvements possible with floating slab track and sound deflector plates mounted at rail level. Solid sound walls, even if made of thick glass, would expose a structure that tall to high wind loads. They’d also present a hazard during an earthquake.

    None of this is easy to do right, but we need to get away from the emotional truthiness on both sides of this dispute and toward a rational, science-based decision.

    Peter Reply:

    Those impacts can be quantified once the updated noise study is released.

    M Keathley Reply:

    I believe the proximity of the Blue line would render Harvey Auditorium useless. Harvey is located on the BHS campus and has been serving the community since the 1940’s. It is by far the best auditorium in the city. My daughter’s dance recital has been held there 12 of the 14 recitals that we have participated. The 2 years programs held at other local facilities were limited in size and scope due to the difference in facilities. In today’s dollars, Harvey Auditorium would not be rebuilt comparably and it would be a definite loss to the community. I think historic BHS and Harvey Auditorium should be spared the destruction of the HSR. Thank you

    Peter Reply:

    I’m guessing that if you push hard enough the Authority will fund retrofitting Harvey Auditorium to mitigate/eliminate any noise and/or vibration impacts. If the building is ok next to an active freight rail line then I’m guessing that the foundation is good enough that you’re not going to have any vibration issues with HSR.

    Let’s wait for the noise study, however, before we pass judgment on whether a building will be rendered useless. It should come out in the next couple of months.

    wenchance Reply:

    Not to ruin your pride or anything but the final decision lies with CAHSRA. They decide what they do and sorry to say, you can’t do a damn thing about it. You can keep shouting your “Driller” mantra all you want, but the fact of the matter is eminent domain will take place and if it does, it will pass by your school. I apologize for bursting your bubble.

  11. William Rickman
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 02:34

    There are several facts you got wrong in this blog Mr. Cruickshank – either accidently or by design. I would like to point out a few to your blog readers, if I may.

    First off; The Facebook page you mentioned was NOT started by students. The person who began this site is a 26 year old woman who did not even attend BHS. Or did you miss reading her profile on the site? And there are MORE than one opposing this project in California. I know due to the fact I have found them. Ever hear of ‘Google’?

    Second, you’re attempting to make it sound as though the ENTIRE issue in Bakersfield, Calif. is centered on saving a school when it isn’t. Your own proposed route maps show a mass amount of community destruction along its path including two schools (not just one) viable communities and residential neighborhoods, old and new homes, business districts, and part of a hospital. This issue is much bigger than saving BHS. So why are you lying on your blob? Are you trying to distract people from the real issues or are you simply ignorant due to your lack of research on this issue (Again – it’s called ‘Google.”) If you’re going to lie to the public so badly, then perhaps you should run for office.

    I myself grew up in Bakersfield and I know the areas in question very well and know how the communities will be effected by a 5 story elevated structure running through them. There are no tall buildings or large structures along most of the proposed routes. This project would be incredibly intrusive both visually and structurally over all and destroying the integrity of those areas of the city. Why don’t you plan a route close to the airport (Meadows Field) or a more unincorporated area which NEEDS rebuilding and revitalization? You’re already doing that in other areas along your California route. Why not do it in Bakersfield as well? I’m sure travelers would appreciate being close to the airport, especially those needing rental cars, taxis, restaurants, and hotels for overnight stays. All the necessities found in the proximity of an airport.

    You claim it will help the economy and the city. Really? Then why has SO MANY properties ALREADY dropped in value due to the simple announcement of the “proposed” lines. You know the way it works. If not let me educate your blog readers. As soon as a large public project is even announced, it immediately has an impact on property values and commerce. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise either doesn’t know or is lying to you. And developers count on this so property can, eventually, be bought up cheap from desperate people trying to get out before they lose everything. How will people sell their houses or businesses for a decent price if the value drops any more? How will people who have put so much into their homes for so many years be able to survive now that their biggest life investment is now almost worthless.

    ARE YOU GOIN TO PAY THEM FOR THEIR LAND FOR A DECENT PRICE FROMWHEN THEIR HOMES WERE WORTH MORE? I didn’t think so. That’s not the way “developers” work. I know – I know! But before you hit me with the “fair market value” speech, let me remind you of who would also be the one causing the “market value” to drop before and offer of purchase.

    Also, you had mentioned an article in the Bakersfield Californian showing one writer’s support for the HSR. But you FAILED to mention the many articles and ‘Letters to the Editor’ public opinions which have been printed OPPOSING it. ( – see for yourselves if you don’t believe me folks). One ‘For’ out of so many ‘Against’ does not make a strong argument.

    And, for crying out loud, quite trying to make it sound like the city of Bakersfield is trying to ruin your plans. You mentioned other cities which might now stand up “against” you and defend their selves and schools. Well, if they want to protect their community as well, I hope they do. And I would encourage them to do so. What makes a community? The PEOPLE make it, that’s what.

    “Community:” noun: people with common background: a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society.” If people want to protect their communities, then they have a right to do so and I encourage them all the way. And, if someone in one of those communities happens to start their own website, I shall be happy to show THEM my support as well. Just as the people of Bakersfield are.

    These are just a few of the FACTS I chose to point out for your readers to think about. Any other proud California communities wish to speak out as well? I would love to read your comments and concerns. Just check your facts first ;)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    There are a lot of points to respond to here; I’ll do so as best I can. First, on the founding of the Facebook group, that was an error of mine.

    As to your second point, the Blue line’s impact to the community was lesser than the Red line, which indicated to me the Blue line was a superior option. While I understand why people are reluctant to see a BHS building be demolished for this, I also feel it’s the most reasonable solution to the situation.

    As to the overall route choice, an airport station is less desirable than a downtown station. You get more riders and serve more people – you bring more benefit to the community – if the station, and therefore the tracks, are in the center of the city. The HSR tracks follow the existing BNSF rail line in order to minimize the overall impact.

    I simply disagree about elevated structures – as people in the Palo Alto area know well, I believe they do not present the negative impact you ascribe to them. That’s a point where we’ll probably just have to disagree, but at least know I’m not singling Bakersfield out on that.

    As to property values, almost *all* properties have dropped in value in Bakersfield. Not because of HSR, but because of the worst recession in 60 years and the bursting of the housing bubble. Can you demonstrate or prove that there has been an additional decline because of the HSR proposal?

    I don’t agree with the notion that one is “protecting their community” by opposing the Blue line plan. It’s protecting a building, which isn’t the same thing. The community survives and adapts and embraces the replacement building, just as countless other communities have done, including my hometown.

    I know this isn’t an easy situation, and I’m totally open to compromises and mutually agreeable solutions. But I did disagree with the notion that taking out a single building in the high school was unacceptable because of the possible impact on a community. That’s all.

    William Rickman Reply:

    It appears you are counting on the idea people haven’t seen the proposed route maps. But I have sir. They are on this site for all to see after all.

    I know how much will be destroyed from one end of the city to the other. I wish you would stop belittling the problem. Taking out “one building” is NOT THE ISSUE. STOP trying to make people believe that! Running a 5 story elevated structure through the campus, the neighborhoods, the businesses, the churches, and both schools affected and that ENTIRE section of the city IS THE ISSUE. Quick trying to trivialize this, it’s offensive and insults the intelligence of the people.

    Just a note: Palo Alto is a completely different type of community and situation, but you already know that. Right?

    In regard to your property value comment: I was referring to the dropping in property values IN ADDITION to the present economy situation. We both know new proposals and public information greatly affect property values. You know this as all too well, but are trying to (once again) divert the meaning to sway public opinion. Do not confuse the issue with that tired line about the “economy.” We already know about the economy – we read the papers.

    I should say I am very sorry your Alma matter suffered a devastating fate. But the Industrial Technologies Building on the BHS campus is structurally sound and has a full complement of classes every year. There is nothing wrong with it. The entire campus is in great shape and you’re making BHS, as well as that entire area of the city and you are trying to create an argument it needs revitalization when it doesn’t. Outside of the usual year to year maintenance every institution of learning needs to keep running.

    How dare you sir? How dare you try to spread such a gross image of deception? This blog is not full of “oversights” it is full of lies in my opinion. And if they are not lies, then there is something seriously wrong with the way your organization goes about fact finding. I make this observation based on what I already know, many hours I have spent on research and fact checking, and carefully looking over as much as I can the available information the High Speed Rail Authority has released to the public. I’m not a student, I am an ADULT. And have been one for a LONG time.

    And I have another question if I may: why is it I have seen several responses to your blogs with opposing opinions deleted from this page? One day they are there, the next they’re gone. Would this be another “oversight?” I’m just curious.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    So is the IT building the issue or is the elevated structure the issue? You keep switching back and forth.

    What is going to be “destroyed” by the route? I’ve seen the maps, I even linked to them in this post. I’m happy to have an open discussion about it.

    Do you have any evidence proving your theory about property value declines and HSR?

    I don’t know what you’re talking about with “opposing opinions.” I don’t delete comments unless they have spam or personal attacks. Are you thinking of the “recent comments” feature on the front page which merely contain the 5 most recent comments?

    dave Reply:

    Robert can’t lie on his blog, his readers are well informed and at times more informed than he is about HSR.

  12. Joey
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 03:22

    The Bakersfield BNSF alignment is very difficult because it involves many sharp turns, meaning that regardless of the exact alignment, properties will have to be taken either way to straighten out the curves. The blue alignment overall stays closer to the rail corridor, meaning that the overall impacts might be less (keep in mind that I’m talking about more than BHS here). Interestingly enough, the UPRR route through Bakersfield has curves wide enough that if the HSR line were to hypothetically follow this route, it could probably stay right along the rail line for the entire route. This would preclude any intermodal with Amtrak, but it’s questionable whether that service will exist once HSR is in operation anyway. Also, it more or less hinges on using the UPRR route all the way from Fresno to Bakersfield, which has already been rejected. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of building an entirely new right-of-way (which doesn’t have to happen with BNSF) outweighs the costs of the property takes and impact mitigation associated with BNSF.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Union Pacific strikes again. So much of this problem would be avoided if UP supported HSR. That’s where people in Bakersfield should direct their concerns.

    William Rickman Reply:

    Now you’re attacking the rail lines? Aren’t you supposed to be working WITH them? Do you even know what the term “team effort” means? Urban Planning and Community Development is about working WITH people – NOT attacking everyone who has a different opinion than you. Joey makes some good points. Can’t you at least acknowledge before disagreeing?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’m not sure you understand the full story here. The Union Pacific railroad has been fighting the HSR project because they don’t want to share right-of-way, which is causing a lot of problems up and down the route. BNSF is being more accommodating.

    Leandra Reply:

    Thank you, I recently read about that opposition. If Union Pacific changed its mind, is it still possible that the route could go there?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s possible, certainly.

    Rafael Reply:

    CHSRA has long favored the BNSF alignment for the southern Central Valley because of access to Truxton Ave in the downtown area of Bakersfield. In terms of distance and curvature, the CA-99/UPRR corridor would present similar challenges, over-and-above those posed by UPRR’s recalcitrance. A fully grade separated solution for Tulare, Delano etc. would be just as hard as in downtown Bakersfield.

    However, the UPRR/CA-99 would mean a Bakersfield station that wouldn’t have the utility CHSRA (and city officials) think it needs to have. Then again, as elsewhere in the state, many residents didn’t pay much attention to the project before Nov of 2008. Now, mismatches are emerging between what they really want and the fundamental route and station siting choices their elected officials endorsed years ago. Catching that sort of thing before ground is broken is precisely why the CEQA process has a program and a project level phase.

    In Italy, they’ve long had a philosophy of building direttissima rail lines through open farmland, with detours into downtown areas of cities along the route. Where possible, they leverage legacy rails that in most cases were (almost) fully grade separated decades ago after the railway was nationalized. In the US, most tracks are privately owned and used mostly for freight, so grade separation hasn’t happened, modern signaling hasn’t been installed and rights of way have been encroached on by development. In addition, farmland is sacred in California and voters simply don’t want to spend the kind of silly money the Italian approach ends up costing.

    Result: plans to build just a single line through downtown areas on 60′ viaducts and use that for express trains at 200-220mph as well as those that actually do stop in Bakersfield.

  13. Gigi
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 03:30

    Opposing the “blue line” and “red line” is not just about protecting a building on the BHS campus, it really is about preserving the past. Sure, schools and other buildings that had historical or sentimental value have been torn down in the past. And people don’t always seem to mind, we do. It is one thing to have a memory of a place and something completely different to be able to walk in the same footsteps as those before us. I didn’t go to BHS, I went to Liberty. However my grandmother attended BHS and every time I was on its campus for a tennis match, football game, choir concert or play in the Harvey, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to my grandmother.

    History is the study of change. However, the change isn’t the school itself but the people whom walk its campus. BHS allows the residents of Bakersfield to hold on to what is left of the past rather than losing everything to change for innovation.

    So the argument is that you can’t hold on to something forever and need to let go? But we’re going to be told what to let go of and when. What about national parks? The White House? Arlington Cemetery? Ancient civilizations? If we need to let go and just stick with the memories we’ve got, why bother preserving these and studying them? Because they’re part of our nation’s past, present and future. The IT building and the BHS campus as a whole, serve the same purpose in Bakersfield. The point of preservation is to allow future generations the chance share the experiences of those who came before us.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If we were talking about demolishing the entire campus, I might agree here. But I don’t see how losing one building would cause these impacts. I disagree that it would result in losing all connection to the past, or that we would fail to preserve the past.

    When I say history is about change, I don’t say that to be flippant. Change is not easy and it often requires very difficult choices. In this instance, given all the alternatives, it seemed to me that if you could save some homes by using the Blue line option, it was the right move.

    Brandi Reply:

    I think having a relationship with your grandmother is very important. And I understand how a place can bring a connection. Yet every place in the world serves a connection for someone. It would seem then that by destroying any building you are destroying someone’s connection to the past. I think one needs to weigh how many connections a place serves to determine its historical value. I really think that comparing a building that has some local significance to historical objects that have nationwide and worldwide significance is kind of ridiculous. The White House for example or the Golden Gate bridge serve as objects of importance to our national conscious. On the other end of the spectrum is my house which only serves a historically important for my family and whoever lived here before. I bet you could find someone that would argue anything is important. I would even argue that you probably destroyed someone’s connections to the San Fransisco Bay by building the Golden Gate. In other words, even things that are historical (if they are manmade) resulted in destroying someone else’s connection to a place.

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 04:07

    Well, we have people who want to preserve what they consider the most important building on the campus of Bakersfield High School–and at least some are also supportive of HSR. I haven’t looked at the Facebook page, but have the HSR/Driller fans and others suggested an alternate routing that might be acceptable (and doesn’t impinge upon King Union Pacific)?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think such alternatives would be a very good idea to propose.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    From the pictures of the red and blue routes that have been published, it appears to me that the blue route coming into town from the east does not affect as many public properties, but as it continues it intersects the red route and then from there the blue route affects BHS. Can these 2 routes be combined. Follow the blue route coming east into town, and then where they intersect, just before BHS, take the red route heading west out of town. Is that an all too simple of a solution?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s definitely something to explore. If it’s practical, it could well be the solution that makes everyone happy.

  15. Chris L
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 05:00

    I’m a class of 2000 alumni of BHS and am very concerned about the blue line’s impact on BHS. However, like almost everyone else here, I strongly support the idea of HSR for California. For now, I only have two points to contribute to this important discussion:

    1) Noise from a high speed train – I am skeptical that noise from the train will not disrupt classes at BHS. I am not an expert, but just youtube “high speed train noise” for evidence from other countries: The freight trains make an occasional loud crack as trains bang together, but never create a continuing vibration and noise that come from HSR trains. How many trains will rush by during one school day? The noise could be a serious disturbance to classrooms. Sound barriers could be a solution, and using the red line may be just as bad with regard to noise – I am just questioning the assumption the noise will be a non-issue.

    2) How big of an impact will there really be on BHS? Some here are saying we will only lose the IT building – if that were the only detriment to BHS then I’d say we are overreacting – others say Kern Schools could decide BHS is no longer a viable comprehensive campus and thus close / move it entirely. I think this would be an abject travesty for the city, and I’m sure this risk is what really scares all of us who are organizing to protect our city’s heritage. Robert, if I were the CAHSR, I’d approach Kern Schools to find out what their criteria are for a “viable comprehensive campus” and make changes to guarantee that the whole of BHS, the IT building notwithstanding, is not lost to your blue line.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    These are both very sensible points.

    1. That’s one possibility of how it could sound – an occasional “woosh.” I went to a high school next to Interstate 5 and we heard trucks fairly often, and got used to it. I think studying this and figuring out good ways to mitigate any issues is entirely appropriate. However, I don’t see anything to suggest as of this time that the noise would be a “serious disturbance” – still, it needs to be studied.

    2. Totally agree with your proposal for CHSRA and their discussions with Kern Schools. I should hope such discussions have already been under way. If not, they need to get started immediately.

    Peter Reply:

    Don’t forget we’re still waiting for a new study on sound and vibration based on current generation HSR equipment which should be released soon. We’ll have a lot more objective data then.

    thatbruce Reply:

    1. Soundwall. The train videos that are commonly referenced seem to be mainly of trains running at speed in the countryside without any noise mitigation measures. Most vehicles (train high speed or not, trucks, cars, planes etc) are audible for a distance under such circumstances.

    With a station nearby, the high speed trains won’t be running at full power (less sound), and being in an aerial structure, the remaining sound won’t be directed to the sides. Since it is in an urban environment, extended soundwalls would also be a desired mitigation option.

    2. No-one has mentioned moving the building yet?

  16. Andrew
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 06:39

    Jesus Christ, somebody call a WAHMULANCE. Stop the histrionics and start suggesting viable alternatives, people! And don’t say “tunnel.”

    Jared Reply:

    Why not tunnel? seems to work in DC for the Metro. The Bay Area for BART. NY for the subways. Europe seem to be doing fine.

    And what does Jesus have to do with it?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If Bakersfield chooses to build a metro, I’ll support it if it chooses to build it underground.

    Peter Reply:

    Tunneling is a last resort. It’s EXPENSIVE and takes forever to be built. Bakersfield-Merced will hopefully be one of the first stretches built, so it would help if it had an actual station when the segment opens…

  17. Brandi
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 07:10

    The school district I lived in growing up demolished the old high school and opened up a new one on the same property just in time for my freshmen year. Many alumni were not happy with the decision. On the other hand, everyone that was going to school at the time was ecstatic to have a new school and not the old school which had a leaky roof. I understand that loss is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with. For me losing people though is much more important than losing any material object. Now I understand that buildings that are important to our collective history are worth preserving. I think this is the picture of the IT building that would be lost.
    Now in my opinion as an outsider without emotional connections it doesn’t look like something I would look twice at walking by other than that large mural on the side. Now i’m not sure if some significant event occurred there in the high school’s history or what not. Once again I understand that people are emotionally connected to their school as it is an important part of most people’s lives. Yet I bet many of the students that have yet to go there would love a new building just like majority of people would prefer a new car instead of their parent’s old car with a bunch of memories. I think maybe the school should ask for compensation to build a new building instead. They could use the compensation to make an even more unique place to make new memories in.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Just to clarify first, that’s Warren Hall in the picture… but that’s the fault of the news for putting a picture of another building. I think they just wanted the artwork donated by the class of 2000 to be there.

    Also, if you look at the campus map here:, you will see that with the size of the IT building, it’s just not possible to relocate the building elsewhere on campus; BHS is already the smallest campus of all the comprehensive high schools in Bakersfield, which is part of the reason the Kern High School District says the campus wouldn’t be viable as such any longer.

    Something that many people have talked about is the age of the buildings– but the campus was beginning a ton of renovations as I was graduating in 2001.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Let’s take HSR out of the picture for a second.

    Is BHS still viable where it is? Are enrollments causing the campus to outgrow itself?

    And what impact on historical buildings did these renovations have?

    Bringing HSR back into the picture, is it really impossible to move the building, or merely difficult? Keep in mind the CHSRA will pay for any relocation or replacement.

    Laurie S Reply:

    I think it is probably impossible to move it. About the only other places physically able to contain it would be Elm Grove and the football field.

    Peter Reply:

    Is Elm Grove the park to the east of the school?

    I would normally not suggest taking over a park, so please don’t bite my head off, but could the building potentially be moved to the park, and the parking lot could be moved beneath the aerial?

    Other than removing some green space, how does that sound as a compromise?

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Hi Peter,

    Elm Grove is a green space in the middle of the campus. At least when I was a student there, this is where students can buy a la carte lunches… aka- food other than what is served in the cafeteria. There is no way that all the students could eat in the cafeteria, so generally this is the space students congregate (unless it’s raining or too cold, when instead they take over random spaces on campus… but let’s face it, it rarely rains in Bakersfield).

    To get a better view of where Elm Grove is, you can view a campus map here: Hope that helps a bit.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, it was worth a try.

    How about closing 14th St, shifting the building south, and placing the parking lot beneath the aerial. Would that work better, if Cheri’s idea above doesn’t work out (I haven’t been able to study it in detail yet)?

    Peter Reply:

    Thank you for that link. I was under the impression that the building in question was the one directly to the west of the Industrial Arts building. My apologies.

    And no, moving the REAL building onto the park would not be possible without completely getting rid of the park.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Elm Grove is not a park. It’s part of the campus. It is my understanding, that there are underground service tunnels that run under Elm Grove. Due to a limitation of space, parking on the BHS campus is at real premium already, so anything that removes parking, I’m going to guess, would be met with extreme opposition. If you Google Earth the high school address (1241 G Street, Bakersfield, CA) and take the little guy out to the street, you will get a good idea of the area we have been talking about, including a better look at the IT building instead of just a drawn overhead map.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m suggesting placing parking underneath the aerial.

    orulz Reply:

    Complete outsider here.

    What about the parking lot at the corner of G and California? Clearly big enough. Can’t spare the parking spaces? Why not have CHSRA pay to build a parking deck to replace all the spaces that will be lost, plus some extra for good measure?

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    While I can answer some of those questions, I’m not sure of the answers to all of them so I’m not going to pretend that I have them.

    Yes, BHS is still viable where it is. No, enrollments are not causing the campus to outgrow itself. Every so often the city may do some re-zoning of schools, but as the city grows outward (if you picture downtown as the middle), then new high schools are put up in those growing areas. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon, as I live closer to two other high schools, but went to BHS.

    What I do not know is the impact of renovations on historical buildings– as far as I know, what was being done was work on pipes and things of that nature. After all, the school didn’t have air conditioning until just before I started there in the late 1990s! :)

    As far as moving the building goes, there is just not that amount of space available on the campus without the removal of Elm Grove. I’m not sure if that would be merely difficult, or impossible.

    Jared Reply:

    Just to clarify, the renovations started after I graduated in 1986. Started with the addition of A/C to Warren Hall, removal of asbestos, etc. Seems what people often forget is the need for “Historical Preservation”. BHS is more than a high school, it is what sets the high school district apart from others in the state. As BHS grew, more schools were added to the district. East Bakersfield High, South Bakersfield High, North Bakersfield High, West Bakersfield High.
    Buildings the size of those on the BHS campus cannot be picked up and moved to another location. Zoning would not allow for a building the size of the Industrial Arts building to be built on the campus.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the high-speed rail, just not at the cost of historical landmarks nor the debt that will be incurred with this project.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Can the zoning be changed?

  18. A.R
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 07:11

    ok so first of all you guys are making it seem like we bashed the fact that the HSR was coming to Bakersfield. That is not the case at all. But we are trying to preserve a land mark that is older then Bakersfield itself. The IT building is not just another building. And i actually oppose both the red and the blue line for the fact that no matter what something is getting torn down. And as for it interrupting our education, its not the matter of how quit its is as for its just NOT safe to be around a school. I don’t even like the one thats there now.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Why is it unsafe? It’s not enough to claim it, explain it.

    As to the red and blue lines, given the needs of the system and the constraints of what already exists, there’s no way to build this without impacting some current use – whether a farm, a school, a house. The goal is to minimize those as much as possible, and the Blue line proposal appeared to do that.

    Rafael Reply:

    The objectives of grade separation are safety and high throughput capacity at high speed. Sure, some structures are going to have to be impacted in order to get this thing built. You say you want the omelet but you’re squeamish about breaking the eggs.

    As for your assertion that operating vehicles at high speed near a school being a safety hazard, please explain. Do BHS students hover 60′ above grade level?

  19. Julie Grimes
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 08:44

    I don’t think that the High Speed Rail going anywhere near any high school is a good idea. Just think of the noise and pollution alone. There is soooooo much pressure on students today and the academic standards are so high. How in the world do you expect students to concentrate and do well if all of that noise is going on?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    How do they succeed and learn with a freight yard next door?

    How did I succeed in school next to a 12-lane interstate freeway?

    How do Peninsula students learn and succeed next to the Caltrain corridor?

    I understand the concerns about a historic building. I disagree with using that to block one of the proposed HSR routes, but I at least understand where it comes from. This notion that HSR anywhere near a school is bad, however, makes no sense to me.

    Andrew Reply:

    What pollution?

    I know it must seem crazy to a west-coast American, but the proposed trains are actually all electric.

  20. Spokker
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 08:46

    WELLL I go to BHS school and i think it’s very unsafe for students to be around trains. for one i think someone’s backpack could get caught on the train and be pulled asunder. also i think the electric waves from the trains will inject radiation into the students brains making it hard to learn. we worked fvery hard to preserve this building and don’t want the rail because of derailments that happen every day.

    i support the high speed train but please put the rail on another planet.

    thank you and god bless.

    Rafael Reply:

    Gotta get me one of them jetpack backpacks so it can be pulled asunder by a bullet train way up high. That would be totally rad, dude. Well, one time, anyways. If it’s someone else.

  21. Laurie S
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 09:32

    I am a relative latecomer to the HSR discussion, so I have questions as well as comments and a suggestion.

    I have lived in Bakersfield for a little over 25 years. I never attended Bakersfield High School, but one of my sons graduated from and another one currently attends the school. In the twenty-five years I’ve lived here, the population has “exploded” and city development has spread with little apparent foresight for planning transportation routes to keep up with the sprawl. Do some research on the Westside Parkway Project and, in addition, see how many of our intersections have D or F ratings. Also, as noted by a previous writer, Bakersfield has very, very few tall buildings. Visually speaking, a five-story high speed rail passing through the downtown would look very out of place (well, except for passing by the convention center with its “space port” looking roof … an image of Disneyland circa 1970 comes to mind, a la the monorail and Tomorrowland).

    Regarding the concerns the blue route would have on the BHS campus (set aside, for the moment, the need to remove the IT building), imagine, if you can, a train running slightly higher and ONLY 100 FEET FROM the classroom windows of one of the tallest buildings on campus; that would be Harvey Hall. Even with some kind of sound or protective buffers built on the railway system, that comes way too close, in my opinion. No matter which of the two proposed routes you look at, there are going to be buildings and homes within this kind of proximity (or maybe even closer) to the railway. Robert, you say that the chances of an accident on the HSR are very small. That may be true. We probably take more risk everyday driving in our cars or walking along a street — a risk that I might point out is a voluntary action on each individual’s part as opposed to having a train hurtling by that we have no control over. And, yes, you have made a valid point that there are ground level train tracks that already run near the campus and through town, posing their own kind of risk to students and residents. BUT, as long as ANY chance of derailment exists, whether at ground level or five stories up, it is not a question of “Could it happen?” but one of “When will it happen?” That is a certainty that is impossible to predict, so why would we want to increase the chances of that certainty by building another rail system through town?

    Question: Are these two proposed routes the only ones that have been researched by the CHSRA? If so, why? If not, what other routes were looked into and why were they dismissed as not being viable alternatives?

    Suggestion: (which may become moot depending on your answers to my questions) Why not run the HSR around the western and southern outskirts of Bakersfield, establish transfer stations, and use dedicated shuttle buses to bring people into various high use parts of town? For example, if the HSR ran along the I-5 corridor, there could be a transfer station near the Stockdale Highway exit, with a bus that ran in to CSUB, then along our California Ave corridor and on to downtown. Presumably Bakersfield’s city planners could suggest two or three other transfer station locations. I do not have any experience or expertise in trying to calculate the dollar cost of running the HSR route in that direction, but common sense tells me that (1) it would cause far less of a disruption than running a ginormous rail system smack dab through a city, and (2) it might, for a change, allow Bakersfield to integrate with a major transportation system as the city grows instead of continuing the always-behind transportation planning that seems to be our trademark.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Um…Harvey Hall is our mayor. Harvey Auditorium is what I meant to write.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Some responses:

    Safety: The only HSR derailment that has happened in the 46 years they have been in operation was when some sheep got onto a track in Germany. That would not be a possibility in Bakersfield (and not just because there aren’t any sheep near BHS!). HSR is probably the safest form of transportation in the entire world. There is simply no chance that students will be in any danger from it. They are in FAR greater danger when they walk or drive to school.

    Outside town: For a variety of reasons, it is not preferable to move stations to the edge of cities. You want the stations to go where the people are – and that is in the center of the city. The studies the CHSRA has done over these last 10 years indicate that putting a station on the edge of town would significantly reduce ridership and make the HSR system much less beneficial to Bakersfield residents.

    If the goal is to “allow Bakersfield to integrate with a major transportation system” then the best way to do it is to put the station in the center of town, along an existing rail corridor. That’s the least disruptive place to put it.

    Spokker Reply:

    “We probably take more risk everyday driving in our cars or walking along a street — a risk that I might point out is a voluntary action on each individual’s part as opposed to having a train hurtling by that we have no control over.”

    So you don’t fly, either? Can’t have planes, they might suddenly fall from the sky and we can’t control that!

    Laurie S Reply:

    I do fly, when I choose to. Your comment missed my point, and I didn’t put it out as troll bait.

    FWIW, I like the idea of the HSR. I vaguely think I might have voted in favor of it at the referendum step. What I’m not in favor of are either of the current routes through downtown that are being considered.

    Laurie S Reply:

    Thanks for the answers, Robert. Where can I go to read the studies or surveys that support your argument for wanting to put the rail station downtown supposedly where all of its riders would want to go? What is the profile of who these supposed riders would be? When I, or say someone on business, need to go to another town for a particular purpose, I don’t not consider flying if the distance is great enough or it will save me time just because the plane won’t land in the parking lot of the company or store I want to visit. And after my plane lands, I’ll take a shuttle bus either to the downtown location or to a car rental agency. Why wouldn’t such logic apply with the HSR?

    And I respectfully disagree that building and running an elevated railway system through an already existing metropolitan area would be less disruptive than building and running it, on the ground no less, where little has already been developed.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, that depends on who you’re disrupting. In some ways it’s a tradeoff between running it through the cities where it’s actually meant to serve passengers, or through farmland, where there are no passengers and you’re literally destroying the ability to farm the impacted parcels.

    The farmers in the Central Valley would and do disagree with you.

    Peter Reply:

    Laurie, I think the answers to many of your questions can be found at the Authority’s website at In the library you can find the analysis of why certain alignments were discarded versus why certain ones were advanced. It may take a little reading, but all the information is there. In addition to looking at the Fresno-Bakersfield and Bakersfield-Palmdale sections, also check out the 2005 (?) Programmatic EIR documents for the general route decisions analysis (I-5 vs. US-99, Tehachapis vs. Grapevine, etc).

    Laurie S Reply:

    Thank you, Peter.

  22. clongcrier
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 09:37

    I feel this is more about not realizing what we have and will let go, because someone has informed we need high speed rail..Bakersfield has torn down too many buildings, not recognizing that the history carried with those walls, that will support a town……we have let big development dictate their ideas for our town. Lets plan our town for the future, keeping in mind safe housing, walkable shopping. Our air is bad, but this town is spread out, and there is no transit, yet, that provides capable transportation quickly. Get does not have quick transportation, and if we are going to solve problems for the future, lets perpare out town.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My view is all of that can be achieved even if one building were demolished. And perhaps there are ways to avoid that demolition. I just disagree with the notion that to protect history, we have to protect every single building.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the building is that precious they can always raise the funds locally to tunnel in that section. Or if this all going to ruin the ambiance of Bakersfield, bypass Bakersfield. I’m sure there’s someplace 20 miles outside of town the tracks can run.

  23. Sean
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 10:46

    I support tge construction of a high speed rail bit as a BHS alumnus, I do not want it to negatively effect the campus at all. While it is true the blue line would only require thr destruction of one building, the Kern High School District said the presence of the line that close to campus would force them to move the campus’s location. Secondly, I’ve seen some comments from people saying that their high schools were torn down and rebuilt and they didn’t care. That is good for you but BHS has a very strong sense of tradition both as a student body but also the campus itself. This makes us extremely loyal to the school even after graduating. Finally, the BHS campus is over 100 years old and represents a great deal of Bakersfield’s history. Even the IT building has historical signifigance. Bakersfield cannot afford to destroy its history.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    KHSD has to explain their thinking that this would require them to move the campus. I do not see why that is necessary.

    I understand the point about the school’s history. Since we’re not talking about demolishing the school, I do not see why the school’s history is harmed if one building is moved, even if the original is demolished and a copy rebuilt nearby.

  24. dave
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:09

    This whole opposition is basically a few things, people who are emotionally attached to the memories of their childhood, people who are cheerleader types who see their school campus as a place of religion, people who like the school because they attended at some point in their life and are Un-informed about HSR and finally, people who basically “live” in schools, who are supporters of all schools in general in our state and across the country and only advocate to build more schools. You can also add, just regular un-informed people who are scared of something they don’t understand. If all else fails, Nimbyism is often the result.

  25. Caelestor
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:46

    Whoa, what happened here? 100 comments in 12 hours! Impressive!

    Peter Reply:

    The locals caught on to the blog. Which makes for much more interesting discussion, since they know the land better.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Agreed. I was hoping they would come and offer their commentary. I’m glad they did.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    great improvement in the quality of the FUD.

  26. Cheri Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:46

    I’m going to ask this question again seeing as the more people write, the more things get lost. I am sitting here looking at the map of the 2 proposed routes through Bakersfield that was published in our local newspaper. I think I read somewhere in someone else’s comments that this planning has been going on for 10 years and these were the only two viable routes. It appears that as the the two routes enter Bakersfield from the east, the blue route is the least disruptive to a point where the 2 routes intersect at Mill Creek, east of BHS. The red route then continues just to the north of the blue route, and the 2 routes parallel each other continuing west. (where the blue route then goes through the BHS campus) My question is again, why not combine the 2 routes, blue route into town until the intersection point, and the red route out of town?

    Peter Reply:

    A link to the map you’re looking at?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    She may be referring to this one.

    I don’t know the answer to her question but it does seem like a proposal worth exploring. CA4HSR has proposed similar hybrids in the past.

    Leandra Rayford Reply:

    Actually, I’m REALLY glad that Cheri brought that up, because it was actually proposed by a student from Los Angels who had been communicating with me for about a week, and then came up to Bakersfield to make that proposal to the City Council… but I didn’t know how to explain the hybrid as he did. :)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Here’s our post on a potential hybrid solution in the Merced area. It would seem that a similar solution should be workable in Bakersfield.

    Peter Reply:

    Hmmm. It looks to me that the main problem would be the insistence on arrow-straight platforms and the short distance available to do the reverse curve from the blue line station to the red line before you reach BHS while maintaining curve radii conducive to 220 mph operations…
    Ideas, anyone?

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    I’m not an engineer, but it just looked like it could work or some version of it. The map I was looking at wasn’t in such detail as the one Robert put a link to. I have sent this question to the contact email on the HSR website, but I am just one person so I have no idea if it will be looked at much less given any time for consideration.

    Peter Reply:

    If the requirement for completely straight platforms was waived, you could push the platforms to the east and potentially turn northwards earlier. But that’s still threading the needle around the Arena.

    I think it’s definitely a suggestion that would be worth turning the engineers loose on.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thanks. Who are these engineers and where do we contact them?

    Peter Reply:

    I think you want to talk with Carrie Bowen. I think she’s the Regional Director for that section. She can either take your suggestion or pass you on to the design team.

    I don’t have her contact info, but you should be able to get it from either the Authority directly at (916) 324-1541 or from the PR department at (916) 710-1368. They’ll be closed today as a furlough Friday.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Thank you for the information.

    HSRforCali Reply:

    You can also call the CAHSR Authority and they’ll put you through to the project manager of the Fresno-Bakersfield section if you ask.

  27. Jennifer Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:05

    As a BHS alumni, class of 2001, I support Leandra in her efforts to save the IT building and, quite possibly, the school itself. As a former resident of London, UK and frequent rail traveller, I would love to see California and the US transportation system join the 21st century and build a high speed rail system. As a democrat, a member of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee and president of the Bakersfield Democratic Club, I want to see HSR come to Bakersfield.

    I don’t, however, see the need to demolish one of the most historic buildings (if not _the_ most historic) on the most historic campus in this town. Whilst I don’t think history should stand in the way of progress, I don’t think that progress should demolish our history. Look at the great cities of this world – there is plenty of space, currently occupied by old buildings, that we could make better use of with modern technology. But we don’t, for good reason. One of my first memories of my time in London was touching a fragment of the original Roman wall built to protect Londinium. Yes, that fragment of wall could be torn down and replaced with something vital to the community but, it won’t be – because the wall itself is a vital piece in the history of London.

    Your Tustin High argument is a strawman; the IT building is structurally sound and the CHSRA isn’t proposing renovation – it’s proposing demolition.

    I also think that the tone of your blog post is patronising and snide and the sneering comments that take the piss out of people wanting to preserve a large piece of the history of this town are unwarranted. That doesn’t endear you to opponents of HSR and it won’t make you any friends amongst supporters.

    Yes, ‘memories’ are a part of why Leandra, myself and many others are fighting to protect the campus – but, a larger part of our fight is so that future generations will be able to touch and see for themselves a piece of Bakersfield history, as opposed to just reading about it on Wikipedia. Bakersfield already has a bad habit of forgetting its history – let’s not make it worse.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Again, I didn’t intend to be condescending. As I’ve said, I do not believe that every historic building has to be preserved. The campus can be preserved and HSR built in that area through some sensible solutions, such as moving or building a copy of the IT building itself. I do not believe that demolition and reconstruction would have the negative impact many believe it will, but perhaps the hybrid solution discussed above can meet everyone’s needs.

  28. Bob Somers
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:08

    Just figured it out guys, problem solved. The blue line can continue with one minor change.

    If the state accepts this option I’ll only charge $5 for the 30 seconds I spent in Photoshop fixing it.

    Peter Reply:

    I hope that was meant in jest.

    Trains will be going 220 mph through there. That curve would be more appropriate for maybe 50 mph?

    nobody important Reply:

    Are they really going to go 220 mph near a station, in an urban area?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, that is the plan. They pretty much have to in order to meet the 2:40 LA-SFTBT time mandate in Prop 1A.

    Bob Somers Reply:

    You’re the kind of downer who doesn’t ride the roller coasters at theme parks, aren’t you Peter?

    Peter Reply:


    Well, actually, I fly airplanes.

    I do also ride roller coasters, though.

    I just wasn’t sure whether you were serious. Sarcasm doesn’t always transfer over blog comments…

    Rafael Reply:

    I, for one, welcome our new Photochop overlord. We should have a looping, also.

    Cheri Smith Reply:

    Bob, I hope in your sarcasm that you weren’t trying to put me down for asking the question about merging the 2 routes. Sometimes the simplest solutions to a problem are often overlooked by the people involved. Have you heard the story about the boy and the hole in the dyke? On another note, we love rollercoasters and especially airplanes at our house. I think you know my son Miles, who is now a pilot.

  29. Seven Bates
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:11

    Bakersfield has a long *history* of abandoning its history, Mr. Cruickshank. That’s why people are being so vocal about their opposition now.

    Your history lesson on history, is condescending in tone and illustrates how little you understand of our local community. Bakersfield is full of rich and interesting historical elements that are completely invisible to residents. It’s taken me 10 years (after moving here) to learn all about the amazing history of this town, because there are virtually NO landmarks or tangible aspects of them left.

    Residents today are painfully aware of the fact that urban sprawl, poor city planning, and zoning issues have permanently destroyed valuable landmarks that Bakersfield should have protected. This is due, largely, to the fact that the local government has leaned to the hard right, politically, for decades. Subsequently their “pro business” approaches to city planning, have been influenced by the consumer-driven economy – well beyond the norms of other cities.

    As a result, many important landmarks have been removed for strip malls and cookie cutter neighborhood developments. There is no identifiable Bakersfield architecture. Rather, we’re surrounded by chain restaurants and retail outlets.

    Give us a little credit; we’re not being obtuse.

    In this situation, the city of Bakersfield NEEDS to preserve BHS. It’s an important building, and removing portions of it for the genuine benefits of high-speed-rail wouldn’t typically be an issue, if not for the overwhelming circumstances that plague this city.

    A handful of home owners should be presented with the option for buyouts (in this economy, they’ll probably jump at the chance) before we consider demolishing an important historical landmark.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If this was about total demolition of BHS I would probably agree. But if we can find a way to relocate or, failing that, tear down and rebuild a copy of the IT building elsewhere on the campus, that seems a reasonable solution, doesn’t it?

    I’m not against preserving history. But neither do I believe everything that is old, however valuable, has to be preserved for the sake of history. Happily this conversation appears to have suggested some ways we can work out a solution that fits everyone’s needs.

    Lauri Reply:

    I would like for someone to look at a map of the BHS campus and tell me where a new IT building would be built. The only places big enough as far as I can see are Elm Grove and the practice field. I think that rebuilding on campus would cause something else to be lost: what little space the students have for eating their lunches, practicing for cheer, color guard, football, etc., and even just hanging out. May not seem like much to some, but those kids need some room to move around, or yes, even just hang out.

  30. M Keathley
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 13:18

    Why can’t the rail follow Union Ave or better yet Highway 58?

    Peter Reply:

    Highway 58 has a really tight turn that would not be conducive to 220 mph operation. Union Ave would require HSR to either cut through neighborhoods to get reach or cut through valuable farmland. We’re trying to avoid both.

    The advantage of the blue and red lines is that they offer an intermodal station with Amtrak’s San Joaquins. As this is the furthest south station on the San Joaquins, it’s important that people be able to transfer easily.

  31. Cheri Smith
    Jun 11th, 2010 at 15:22

    Two things come to mind as I read all of these blogs. First, I am glad I am not the one to make this decision, because if other towns are as complicated and vested as we are, I can’t imagine what an undertaking this has got to be. I also realize they have to remain as detached as possible, and I know to those of us affected by this, they come across as cold and heartless, and I’m sure that isn’t the case. The other, As I am reading some of the earlier blogs, I realize that some people are misunderstanding what the IT building is. In this era we think of IT standing for information technologies, as in computers. I think some people invision a building with rows of computers. That isn’t the case. IT stand for Industrial technology. Meaning large, high ceiling rooms, filled with hoists, lifts, drill presses, huge table saws, a greenhouse, etc. This is not just about saving a building, it is about saving curriculum that is not offered any where else in our county. Please keep that in mind when you here so many stories about traditions and history. Yes, they play a part, but it is not the only part. The reason the school officials talk about it not being a viable campus once this building is gone, is because they believe a viable high school tries to meet the needs of ALL of its students. Not just the college bound kids. You take away this building, and you take away that curriculum.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If that building were to be demolished, the CHSRA would have to pay for its replacement. I would absolutely not support demolition without replacement. That would be deeply unfair.

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