Park plans take off, 12 years later

first_imgSAUGUS When the county entered into an agreement in 1994 with a local school district to build a park next to Mountainview Elementary in Saugus, Bill Wittenberg’s then-6-year-old son was enrolled there. But 12 years later, the six-acre perch overlooking rolling canyons remained a weed-choked dirt lot, and Wittenberg’s son is now a 17-year-old junior in high school. “I have a kid that grew up in that school,” Wittenberg said Tuesday. “That’s not good.” The county Department of Parks and Recreation did not responded to calls for comment, but Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said the Board of Supervisors will consider allocating $843,000 for the park this month. If approved, the construction could begin in August, with completion slated for October. “These improvements would provide a year-round recreation area for residents of this Saugus community,” Bell said. The park tentatively called Pacific Crest Park after the surrounding subdivision has been on the drawing board for more than a decade. Current plans include lawn and sprinklers, shade trees, benches and an 180-space parking lot shared with the elementary school. The Saugus Union School District signed a joint-use agreement with the county in March 1994, allowing Mountainview use of the facility. “There were several things we (would) like to do there,” said Bob Cutting, assistant superintendent for business at Saugus Union School District. “The county has been cooperative with us; it just hasn’t been funded by the county yet.” County officials said it took time to raise necessary funds from park fees paid for by developers. “The process has taken longer than we would’ve liked,” Bell said. “We are moving forward with a new park facility for the community.” Still, it’s not good enough for Wittenberg. “It was originally designed to be a full facility with bathrooms,” he said. “Now they’re saying all they can do is sprinklers and grass. I want the county to give the residents what they deserve. … Put in some swing sets.” The battle over Pacific Crest Park puts into focus the question whether the county has fulfilled its parks obligations for residents of unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley. The issue re-emerged last month when the Santa Clarita City Council voted to charge non-residents more to participate in city-run sports and parks program. The county maintains some parks and a sports complex in the surrounding unincorporated communities, with officials seeking to “complement” city programs. But city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said Santa Clarita has been carrying the recreation burden for most of the valley’s 215,000 residents. Ortiz said the city has subsidized participation from those who do not directly pay taxes to the city, paying for program and facility costs out of city coffers while the county contributes little. “It’s a one-sided partnership,” she said. In the 18 years since Santa Clarita incorporated out of communities of the 5th Supervisorial District, city officials have invested in at least a half-dozen new parks a new one opens about every 18 months, Ortiz said and upgraded old ones. “We inherited parks (from the county) that were in completed disrepair,” she said. Bell insisted the county parks officials are working with city officials to ensure all residents are served. “Throughout the county, our parks department works with incorporated cities and the unincorporated communities to ensure a symbiotic relationship, to ensure services are available to all our county residents,” he said. “We are striving for that balance.” [email protected] (661)257-5253 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more