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City turns trash into treasure

Littered area near Santa Clara River bed is site of future park

Posted: December 10, 2009 10:21 p.m.
Updated: December 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Used coffee cups, broken glass and empty liquor bottles decorate a dry stretch of the Santa Clara River bed.

Canyon Country gang graffiti covers a concrete embankment there, near Canyon View Drive: "661" spray-painted in black.

It may not be pretty, but it might get better soon - it's the site of Santa Clarita's latest park project.

With a new source of funding, the city now has the tools to transform the littered, dusty spot into a green place where kids can play - something Santa Clarita officials have wanted to do for years, said Rick Gould, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

The City Council on Tuesday set aside almost $500,000 from Los Angeles County to transform about 3 acres of unused land into Discovery Park. The park site is bordered by Soledad Canyon Road to the south and Canyon View Drive to the east.

"Any time you add a public park to a neighborhood, you improve the quality of life for the people living there," Gould said.

Plans to build the park were made years ago, but the city didn't have the money to make it happen, Gould said.

Funding is being provided by the county thanks to a state proposition passed this year that uses state income tax dollars to pay for infrastructure projects.

Volunteers have cleaned up trash on the site before as part of Santa Clarita's annual River Rally Clean Up, Gould said.

The parks design will transform the area into a usable space for equestrians, bicyclists and joggers, he said. The design reflects the community's desire for a park that looks like it's naturally occurring, he said.

Plans include building drinking fountains, bike racks, benches, hitching posts for horses and a parking lot.

A picnic and recreation area, with boulders for children to climb and play on is also planned, Gould said.

The park will be landscaped with native Californian flora, transforming the area into a grassy meadow. The drought-resistant plants will help reduce irrigation costs, Gould said.

Building Discovery Park is part of a larger city goal to make parks and trail systems near the Santa Clara River that runs through the valley, Gould said. Santa Clarita's River Parks Program has been around since the 1990s.

Primarily dry most of the year, the Santa Clara is the last natural river in the Los Angeles region - not channeled by concrete - and stretches some 116 miles from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific coast in Oxnard

The Discovery Park site was outfitted with paved bike and walking paths a couple of years ago, Gould said. The city will add to trails and bike paths during construction, he said.

The city will begin developing the site sometime in January, and weather permitting, the park should be finished before the end of 2010, Gould said.

Eventually, city staff would like to expand the park by another 9 acres, leaving the rest of the area undeveloped, Gould said. When that can happen will depend on if the city can get more funding for the project, he said.

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