Road closure means big loss for Big Oaks Lodge

File photo of Public Works crew putting gate in place on Bouquet Canyon Road. Katharine Lotze/Signal

The Big Oaks Lodge is the only business on Bouquet Canyon Road north of the Angeles National Forest and the six-month closure of that road is already choking it to death after just one week.

Not only that, Santa Clarita Valley’s Single Mothers Outreach won’t receive food or toys from the lodge since its annual food and toy drive run was derailed by the road closure.

The 4th Annual Big Oaks Lodge Toy Run was scheduled to take place Saturday Nov. 12 – but that was before officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works closed Bouquet Canyon Road.

“This road closure has affected us one thousand percent,” Lodge manager Joi Morrice told The Signal Thursday.

“Our customers can’t get to us because of the road closure,” she said. “Two of my employees can’t make it to work because of the road closure.”

Diana White, who owns the lodge, told The Signal Thursday: “It is going to devastate our business. The situation is dire.”

Angry as hell, Morrice and White have been on the phone to Public Works officials.

“I asked the guy ‘Why didn’t you notify us about this?’ and he told me ‘I guess you’re not in the loop,’” Morrice said. “ I told him ‘I AM the fricking loop. I’m the only business on this road.’”

“Seven people will be out of work if this is not resolved,” Morrice said.

Public Works spokesman Steven Frasher said Thursday that he spoke to White.

“She mentioned that the road closure would be a challenge, and we recognize that,” he said. “I asked her what she needs and we agreed that the placement of a sign would help.”

On Friday, work crews are expected to erect an electronic sign at the south gate on Bouquet telling people that the Big Oaks Lodge is open for business.

White, however, said she’s not optimistic customers are going to take the 45-minute detour to her lodge which is open Thursday to Sunday.

A week ago, Public Works officials closed gates on Bouquet Canyon Road in anticipation of a rain they feared would flood the creek and make the road unsafe.  The weekend closure became a six-month closure.

They closed the road over fears that flooding would make the road unsafe. A buildup of silt around the road since 2007 has rendered the road prone to flooding.

“The road, which was closed Thursday, Oct. 27, due to predicted rain, will remain closed to all traffic at least through winter storm season, which officially ends on April 15,” Public Works spokesman Steve Frasher announced Monday in a news release.

The closure extends from the gate about six miles south of Spunky Canyon Road, just south of Big Oaks Lodge, to the gate near the southern boundary of Angeles National Forest, two miles north of Vasquez Canyon Road which is also closed due to severe buckling of the roadway.

“I am bombarded with phone calls from people wanting to know if the annual toy and food drive is cancelled,” Morrice said. “I have no idea what I’m going to do. That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

Each year the lodge gathers new toys and non-perishable food items to bring to the Single Mother’s Outreach Program.

“I try to deliver them by the first week in December so that they can hand them out to all the needy families in Santa Clarita,” Morrice said. “Now, we’re not able to stock that pantry.”

At least 100 Bouquet Creek residents are affected by the closure, forcing them to take a northern detour that it is triple the distance.

Bouquet Creek resident Bruce Bettelyoun said: “They have absolutely no regard for our concern about being cut off from the city in a way that no one else in Santa Clarita would tolerate or let stand.

“This is an issue that everyone in Santa Clarita Should be concerned about. Our basic rights as residents and citizens are at stake and we should not be deprived of the freedom to live in our community with full access to the same privileges as every else.”

Bouquet Creek resident Ed Frankovich said:“We can’t get mail service because they refuse to come up here. Now, we’re threatening a class action suit against the county.”

Bouquet Creek resident Sylvie Rousset: “The new route that I and so many others are now forced to take, is something very controversial to me here when supposedly safety is the reason why Bouquet closed.  It is really not making any sense to me.

“I feel so violated. The worst is that none of us has been notified. it is very sad to be treated this way. It seems that we are the unknown or the forgotten ones,” she said.

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