Commerce Center medians brought back to life

Landscape Development CEO Gary Horton stands in one of his landscaped medians on Commerce Center Drive. Cory Rubin/The Signal

When the drought caused former Gov. Jerry Brown to order mandatory water use reductions for the first time in California’s history in 2015, landscaped center medians on streets across the state began to suffer the consequences.

The medians along the mile-long stretch of Commerce Center Drive in Castaic were among those affected.

“I’ve been in this business park for more than 20 years when Newhall (Land) was just developing it, so I’ve seen the whole thing grow up,” said Gary Horton, CEO of Landscape Development. “It was wonderful and beautiful… but those medians used to be grass, so it all died.”

After the grass died, the weeds moved in, completely overtaking the median.

“To me, it was actually spiritually depressing to have to go through this to get to work where my job is to make things beautiful,” he added. “There were times when you would drive and you actually couldn’t see the other side of the street.”

Andrew Dervin, CEO of Valencia Pipe Co., another business that has been in the area since 2007, described the medians as an “eyesore.”

“We have a lot of customers come to visit our company, and it was embarrassing,” Dervin said.

Finally, Horton decided to take action, contacting the county and offering to donate the landscaping project and maintain it for two years.

The medians on Commerce Center Drive were overgrown with weeds after the drought led to emergency water restrictions. Courtesy of Gary Horton

“We had to draw in a concept that is in keeping with the county’s new landscape design, and this was particularly designed to be very low maintenance,” Horton said.

Once approved, they got to work with the help of the county, which supplied traffic control, coordination for the irrigation and tree trimming.

“We were able to use plants that have a lot of color to them, and most of them flower, so it’ll be really colorful. What we’ll end up with are these meandering bands of different colors,” Horton said.

The project, which is estimated to cost approximately $60,000, was completed in November.

“The median looks beautiful, and we applaud that Mr. Horton wanted to donate his time and expertise for this beautification project,” said Stephanie English, senior deputy for county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District.

Since then, Horton has been recognized by the Castaic Area Town Council for the donation, and “everybody seems pleased,” he said.

“We moved into this area because of the nice environment that the commerce center provided, so I’m thrilled (it’s restored),” Dervin added. “It’s beautiful, and is a really nice addition to the community.”

Beyond simply improving the median, Horton hopes this can create a dialogue in the community to help keep the area in good shape.

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