Saugus library plan sparks discussion, frustration

By Kevin Kenney

Last update: Thursday, November 17th, 2016

About 100 people turned out at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus on Thursday night to get a progress report on the proposed Saugus branch of the Santa Clarita Public Library – and they heard two significant pieces of news:

* A third possible location for the library is now being considered by the city – Copper Hill Park.

* The size of the project has been scaled down from its original 38,000 square feet to between 25,000 and 30,000, based on surveys of area residents of what services they want in a library.

Meanwhile, though the meeting was pitched as a chance for residents to voice their concerns and ask questions, several said afterward that no one actually got that chance — as the program consisted only of Deputy City Manager Darren P. Hernandez detailing survey data and other information, and then collecting written comment cards.

There were no other public comments or give-and-take, aside from a group of about 25 residents who gathered around Hernandez after his presentation and peppered him with questions.

“They actually did not permit us to speak in favor of this either way,’’ Natalie Moreno, an area resident and leading opponent of the proposed site on Plum Canyon Road near David March Park, said after the meeting.

“The consensus was, we were not allowed to voice our opinions. People felt silenced and frustrated. I wanted to hear from the Copper Hill people, so I can hear their concerns. I don’t want to support something that might hurt some other neighborhood.’’

Mike Koeller, another Saugus resident, had similar thoughts.

“Why not at least a show of hands about who supports this location or that location?” he said. “If people want it, fine, but if people don’t want it, the city shouldn’t force it down people’s throats.”

Hernandez announced Copper Hill Park as another possible landing spot for the library several months after a previous proposed site near David March Park sparked heated opposition from residents of that residential area over traffic, safety and noise concerns.

Hernandez said Plum Canyon remains a possibility, along with Copper Hill Park – both city-owned – as does a privately owned tract on Haskell Canyon Road between Bouquet Canyon Road and Copper Hill Drive, which the city would have to purchase.

Hernandez said the city surveyed 223 homes around the Copper Hill Park location and got 68 responses – 52 in favor, 16 not in favor. Public outreach has not been conducted about the Haskell Canyon Road location, he said.

While the city’s three other libraries – in Valencia, Canyon Country and Newhall – are all located in commercial areas, Hernandez said the Saugus branch will have land in a residential area because, “There are no available commercial locations in Saugus.”

Hernandez also said that, wherever the new library winds up, it will cost between $30 million and $35 million and take about 18 months from initial groundbreaking to opening its doors.

He added that a decision needs to be made some time in 2017 to get the new library open by the end of 2020. The proposed new library is part of “Santa Clarita 2020” – an umbrella of city projects covering community enhancements, public safety, infrastructure and economic growth.

One woman at the meeting, who declined to give her name, was opposed to the library altogether.

“I won’t even bring my kids to the Valencia library – it’s filled with homeless people and criminals from the courthouse looking for free Wi-Fi and bathrooms. There, I said it,” the woman said, as several people around her nodded.

But Hernandez, citing more than 850,000 library users city-wide in 2015, said, “We’ve surveyed the community and there is an overwhelming desire for the library.”

Hernandez said residents can email him their thoughts at DHernandez@santa-clarita.com.

kkenney@signalscv.com

(661) 287-5525

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Saugus library plan sparks discussion, frustration

About 100 people turned out at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus on Thursday night to get a progress report on the proposed Saugus branch of the Santa Clarita Public Library – and they heard two significant pieces of news:

* A third possible location for the library is now being considered by the city – Copper Hill Park.

* The size of the project has been scaled down from its original 38,000 square feet to between 25,000 and 30,000, based on surveys of area residents of what services they want in a library.

Meanwhile, though the meeting was pitched as a chance for residents to voice their concerns and ask questions, several said afterward that no one actually got that chance — as the program consisted only of Deputy City Manager Darren P. Hernandez detailing survey data and other information, and then collecting written comment cards.

There were no other public comments or give-and-take, aside from a group of about 25 residents who gathered around Hernandez after his presentation and peppered him with questions.

“They actually did not permit us to speak in favor of this either way,’’ Natalie Moreno, an area resident and leading opponent of the proposed site on Plum Canyon Road near David March Park, said after the meeting.

“The consensus was, we were not allowed to voice our opinions. People felt silenced and frustrated. I wanted to hear from the Copper Hill people, so I can hear their concerns. I don’t want to support something that might hurt some other neighborhood.’’

Mike Koeller, another Saugus resident, had similar thoughts.

“Why not at least a show of hands about who supports this location or that location?” he said. “If people want it, fine, but if people don’t want it, the city shouldn’t force it down people’s throats.”

Hernandez announced Copper Hill Park as another possible landing spot for the library several months after a previous proposed site near David March Park sparked heated opposition from residents of that residential area over traffic, safety and noise concerns.

Hernandez said Plum Canyon remains a possibility, along with Copper Hill Park – both city-owned – as does a privately owned tract on Haskell Canyon Road between Bouquet Canyon Road and Copper Hill Drive, which the city would have to purchase.

Hernandez said the city surveyed 223 homes around the Copper Hill Park location and got 68 responses – 52 in favor, 16 not in favor. Public outreach has not been conducted about the Haskell Canyon Road location, he said.

While the city’s three other libraries – in Valencia, Canyon Country and Newhall – are all located in commercial areas, Hernandez said the Saugus branch will have land in a residential area because, “There are no available commercial locations in Saugus.”

Hernandez also said that, wherever the new library winds up, it will cost between $30 million and $35 million and take about 18 months from initial groundbreaking to opening its doors.

He added that a decision needs to be made some time in 2017 to get the new library open by the end of 2020. The proposed new library is part of “Santa Clarita 2020” – an umbrella of city projects covering community enhancements, public safety, infrastructure and economic growth.

One woman at the meeting, who declined to give her name, was opposed to the library altogether.

“I won’t even bring my kids to the Valencia library – it’s filled with homeless people and criminals from the courthouse looking for free Wi-Fi and bathrooms. There, I said it,” the woman said, as several people around her nodded.

But Hernandez, citing more than 850,000 library users city-wide in 2015, said, “We’ve surveyed the community and there is an overwhelming desire for the library.”

Hernandez said residents can email him their thoughts at DHernandez@santa-clarita.com.

kkenney@signalscv.com

(661) 287-5525

About the author

Kevin Kenney

Kevin Kenney

Over 30-plus years, Kevin Kenney has been a writer and editor for United Press International, the New York Post and Fox Sports, among other outlets. He joined The Signal in 2016.

  • First off, the attendance was well over 200. Please don’t downplay it Signal.

    People do not want this. Most people found out about the meeting by accident. The city said they sent out flyer to everyone in Saugus, but no one in my neighborhood got the flyer.

    YES, the library will bring more homelessness to the area. The homeless that are now in Central Park will make their way up here because now they will have cleaner bathrooms to go to, a place to hang out in during the day (library) and a park to sleep in at night. This was always meant to be a park and nothing else.

    The city has already bidded out the playground costs. Hernandez tried to blame the county for the lack of amenities at the park such as no restrooms and no playground. I guess he forgot the deal was the county would grade and build the park and the city would take over and build the restrooms and playground. And this from a guy who says he has worked for the city for 13 years.

    His presentation sucked. He was afraid to be up there because of all the crap he got from Plum Canyon residents. The other 3 libraries are in business areas and not residential areas. We do not want this here.

  • I live in Copper Hill, and I never even knew about this “meeting” they had. Flyers? What flyers? I never got a flyer, and I practically live within a football’s throw of Copper Hill park.

    I’m absolutely amazed that we who live here were never solicited with if we wanted the park in the first place. Instead, we got a flyer soliciting what we _wanted_ in the library, not if we wanted it to begin with. I’ve never had the opportunity to voice my concern, and the fact that this neighborhood was never petitioned on the yes/no for the library in the first place is an absolute shame.

    “Hernandez said the city surveyed 223 homes around the Copper Hill Park location and got 68 responses – 52 in favor, 16 not in favor.” — WRONG. How was that survey conducted? What was the solicitation on this “favor” vs “not in favor”, because the only solicitation I ever received was one asking what I wanted to *see* in the proposed library at Copper Hill, not if I wanted one there in the first place. Quite the “loaded question” solicitation.

    I’ll contact Mr. Hernandez myself, and knowing what I know now about this so far, I’m sure most of the folks who live here at Copper Hill don’t want that library going in at the park. What a disaster.

  • Agreed Jack. No notice to anyone. They are hoping they can just push this through with no opposition, but they are hugely mistaken.

  • On 11-17-16 , the meeting was a sham. This library is being forced down our throats. Saugus residents, let your voice be heard. Most Saugus residents near the proposed locations do not want the library at either location. Expand the parks, don’t destroy them.

  • Just to circle back here with a couple links:

    1. A nextdoor.com post regarding the library: https://copperhillpark.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=36660727
    2. A change.org petition against the library at copper hill: https://www.change.org/p/darren-hernandez-stop-construction-at-copper-hill-park

    Just to help keep folk who want to follow this, there’s a couple extra links to visit. Thanks

Kevin Kenney

Kevin Kenney

Over 30-plus years, Kevin Kenney has been a writer and editor for United Press International, the New York Post and Fox Sports, among other outlets. He joined The Signal in 2016.