By Councilmember Bob Kellar
Central Park is home to our Community Gardens, sports fields, and a playground, but it also is home to a wooded grove where more than 100 stumps peek out of the ground in a quiet circle. Each stump bears the name of a Santa Clarita youth who lost their life in a traffic accident. The tree stumps symbolize a life cut short. They are arranged around a monument that highlights the “KNOW MORE, NO MORE” vow to always drive safely. This quiet place is an important piece of Santa Clarita and allows our community to have a location for reflection away from the hustle and bustle of the city around us.
The Youth Grove is a reminder of the consequences of unsafe driving and the effect it has on drivers, innocent motorists and pedestrians. The area was developed following a grassroots effort by the City and the Blue Ribbon Task Force.
If you have never visited our Youth Grove, I highly encourage you to do so. I also want to make you aware of an upcoming event hosted by the City that will honor and remember the lives that have been lost.
The annual Evening of Remembrance will take place this year on Wednesday, September 6, at the Youth Grove. The evening will begin with a Walk of Remembrance starting at 6:45 p.m. Following the walk, a ceremony will be held at 7:15 p.m. that will include music and a video honoring all those that are memorialized in the Youth Grove.
I invite you to attend these important events that send a strong and heart-wrenching message. Bring your children, friends, coworkers and anyone else you can because we all need to understand the consequences of dangerous driving. The elevated risk, to yourself and others on the road, far outweighs any sense of feeling “cool” or arriving a few minutes earlier.
As the summer draws to a close and people get back into the full swing of the daily school routine, it is more important than ever to send a reminder to everyone in Santa Clarita that this is our community and our families on the road – slow down! Too often we see folks rushing around our valley, driving too fast and with little regard for those around them. Speeding and driving recklessly have far greater consequences than just paying a fine or having a point on your license. In a fraction of a second you can become involved in an accident, resulting in serious injuries and even death.
In all my years in law enforcement, nothing pained me more than arriving on the scene of a fatal accident or having to be the bearer of bad news, notifying a family that their loved one will never come home. These senseless tragedies, especially those that are attributed to preventable behaviors like speeding, distracted driving and driving under the influence, must stop. It is up to each and every one of us to learn about the dangers of unsafe driving and be personally responsible for the choices we make while on the road.
For the community’s sake, for your neighbors’ sake, for your family’s sake, for your own sake – slow down! Drive safely, be aware of those around you and make sure that everyone in our City gets home alive.
Bob Kellar is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.