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Frank Ferry: City rises to challenges

Live from City Hall

Posted: December 10, 2009 8:35 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Despite an unprecedented national economic crisis, rising jobless rates, and a housing and credit crisis, the city of Santa Clarita accomplished an impressive work plan in 2009.  

Earlier this year, the Santa Clarita City Council adopted the 21-Point Business Plan for Progress, focusing more than $18 million and federal stimulus dollars on making sure our city and our business community weather the economic storms and are best positioned for the recovery.

The plan includes innovative programs to help businesses thrive, retain local jobs, attract more job-producing businesses and bring needed infrastructure and “green-friendly” projects to our city. Check out our progress on the city’s Web site at santa-clarita.com for more details.

The last phase of the cross-valley connector road is under construction, bringing a new roadway through the city between Highway 14 (the Antelope Valley Freeway) and Interstate 5. It will be open in early spring 2010.

At a cost of $245 million and after nearly a decade of work, this important connector brings our city its first new east-to-west road.

Also this year, the city completed the multi-phase Magic Mountain Parkway/I-5 widening project, adding a larger intersection and expanded freeway on/off ramps in this well-traveled area of the valley, which is also a westside gateway to the city and to Six Flags Magic Mountain.  

The city completed the first phase of the downtown Newhall streetscape project, that added enhancements like new decorative sidewalks, landscaping and street furniture to the area.

Next year, the city will start construction of phase two of the streetscape, which will complete the five-block Main Street area.

Also in downtown Newhall, the city has completed the design of a new and larger 26,000-square-foot library that will be a community focal point.  

In Canyon Country, the city opened the new and larger skate park that is four times the size of its predecessor. The remainder of phase four of the Sports Complex expansion added two new lighted basketball courts, a new interim dog park called “Canine Country,” new aquatic center seating areas, more parking, covered shade/picnic areas, one mile of walkways and shortly, our first sand volleyball court.

Assuring our community is safe and graffiti-free is another important goal of the City Council.

In 2009, the city spent $19 million on public safety, inclusive of a variety of proactive programs and services that provide for prevention, education and enforcement.

Another $500,000 was spent to keep our community free of graffiti. The City/Sheriff Business Alliance and the Neighborhood Watch program work in tandem with targeted teams including COBRA (Career Offender Burglary Robbery Apprehension) and the CIT (Community Interaction Team) to provide integrated, top-notch law enforcement for our city.

Through the work of these special teams, 2009 saw a dramatic reduction in both gang and juvenile crimes, a true testament to the amazing partnership we enjoy with our community and our Sheriff’s Department.

In the transit division, the city launched its new NoHo Express, providing new service to North Hollywood and connections beyond.

A new user card called “TAP” was also launched this year. Noting an increase in use of the city’s commuter bus services, the city purchased two additional commuter buses to help increase these services in the coming year.

More about our city’s transit program is available right now at santaclaritatransit.com/index.aspx.

Traffic and circulation are a major focus, not only in Santa Clarita but in our entire region. In 2009, the city has been working to
implement state-of-the-art traffic technology solutions to improve traffic circulation and very soon will provide residents with “real time” information via text messages.

Within the next few months, the city will have completed traffic signal synchronization at more than 130 locations citywide, which will improve traffic flow.  

Through the city’s newly formed Open Space Preservation District, the city acquired two major parcels of undeveloped land to be preserved in perpetuity. Both are located in Placerita Canyon.

The Open Space Preservation District enables our city to create a green belt buffer around the city that will protect our community from encroaching development for generations to come.

Also in 2009 was the creation of the city’s first arts commission, our inaugural Earth Day/Arbor Day event, the launch of our “greenSantaClarita” Web site, implementation of the non-motorized plan and a whole host of programs, projects and events the community has come to enjoy over the years.

While none of us can be sure what the future economy holds, rest assured your city is doing everything it can to plan for different scenarios, to budget conservatively and always to put our community’s needs in the forefront.

I am very proud of the hard work and dedication displayed by our City Council, commissions, committees and staff to make sure our city continues on a healthy path.

Frank Ferry is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Live From City Hall” is provided by the city and appears Fridays in The Signal.

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