BAKERSFIELD, CA - The public has spoken. The Centennial Plaza bricks and tiles are staying in front of Rabobank Arena.
Bakersfield officials had said the personalized surfaces would have to go. They called them a safety risk causing the city to get sued. But a week of public outcry later, they've changed their tune.
This is all headed to the Bakersfield City Council to discuss the options and listen to what the public wants. And, Councilman Terry Maxwell feels that's what should have happened from the beginning.
"I want to be involved with this. I expect to be called and asked my opinion on these type of things. It's what I got elected for," said Maxwell.
The engraved surfaces are in Maxwell's ward and seemed doomed just a week ago. That's when the City Manager's office announced plans to remove them due to wear, and pour concrete in front of Rabobank instead. They are plans Maxwell says he wasn't aware of.
"Well it comes to a question of what purpose does the City Council have and these types of decisions should be left to the City Council," said Maxwell.
"I can tell you this was a six month long evaluation and we looked at it first and foremost from a safety perspective. We've had a handful of claims related to trip and falls at the arena," said Chris Huot, Assistant to the Bakersfield City Manager.
"I was really curious to see what was going to happen. I knew there would be a huge outcry," said Terry Walker, who bought a brick.
Walker is one of hundreds who bought a brick in 1998 to help create the Centennial Plaza. His was for his parents.
"And now that they are passed, it means a lot more to me. It's a way to remember them and their life," said Walker.
Like Walker, the bricks were personal for many. And many who bought them took removing them personally. They let the city know, even creating a Facebook page hoping to save the bricks. A week later, it worked.
"The ultimate goal is to find a solution that retains those that have been memorialized and at the same time creating a safe environment," said Huot.
"This is what a community is all about. To an important issue and to get this kind of response, it sends a clear message," said Maxwell.
At the City Council meeting August 13th, council members will hear their options. While keeping the bricks and tiles where they are and fixing them is an option, another idea could be creating a memorial wall out of them in front of Rabobank. The public will have a chance to weigh in.