At Westchester's annual 4th of July parade there were two groups of independent thinkers. Both have different ideas about the city's proposed plan to widen 24th Street from four lanes to six lanes. The project would extend from Highway 99 to just east of M Street.
"Our thought is that if it's six lanes with one in the center for turning, there is going to be a lot of traffic," resident Chuck Dickson said. "It will feel like a freeway, sound like a freeway, and it will even smell like a freeway."
Dickson and other residents want the city to hold off on its plan. They are the 'no build' group, and they wore it loud and clear on their red t-shirts at the parade.
But, a second group of residents said it wants to work with the city. At the parade, they showed off their plan for a Westchester Parkway.
"I want to be on their team, and as much as you can be faulted for that the city and city managers, they want to make Bakersfield better not hamper it," resident Leslie Walter said.
The group's plan for a Westchester Parkway would take out homes on the north side of 24th Street, a plan the city favors. It would turn side streets from Oak to C Streets into cul-de-sacs and separate the homes adjacent to 24th Street with a sound wall.
"It will block our neighborhood off so we can have kids playing in the streets and it can become a neighborhood again," Walter said.
Residents said they want it to mirror Old River Road in southwest Bakersfield with its pedestrian walkways and tree-lined medians.
"Right now, we are subjected to commuter traffic that just brings all kind of speed through the neighborhood that makes it unsafe," resident Wayne Kress said.
But, taking out the homes on the north side of the street for this roads project doesn't sit well with Debbie Alberstadt.
"The Declaration of Independence was for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Alberstadt said. "People work hard to get their homes and not for some big city government to come in and say we are going to do this without considering how everybody feels."
The city will hear from all sides during a public hearing before the City Planning Commission. That's where residents will present their new plan for a Westchester Parkway.
The next meeting is Thursday, July 7th at City Hall South on Truxtun Ave at 5:30 p.m.