Los Angeles County and Santa Clarita officials are expected to restart the process of looking into turning the vacant, former Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center building in Newhall into a place to serve veterans and community arts, officials confirmed Wednesday.
A needs assessment for the use of the building, which can help determine how to best allocate resources like the now-vacant facility is expected to be considered soon, according to Michelle Vega, spokeswoman for County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV, after a temporary halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic halted discussion.
In September 2019, Barger and City Council members heard from local residents about needing a new hub for local veterans and community arts, an idea the supervisor said was feasible as a use for the vacant facility.
Barger also shared that county staff members have walked the building to determine appropriate usage, as any activity must comply with the Public Park Preservation Act. The act states that any real property used as a public park cannot be used for any nonpark purposes.
“The answer is a simple, ‘Yes.’ That is the direction we are moving,” Barger said, referring to an effort to convert the former senior center. “I talked with staff, and it is doable, so let’s just figure out how to get it done,” she said at the time.
The commitment to bring a space specific to veterans and the arts still stands for Barger, Vega said Wednesday.
“(T)he supervisor has committed to work with the city (of Santa Clarita) to establish a shared arts and vets center,” said Vega in an email. “The city and the county are working on a needs assessment, which was temporarily delayed due to the demands of COVID, but will soon be underway.”
The needs assessment would look at how an arts and veterans center could best serve the local community and what residents and stakeholders envision, according to Stephanie English, senior field deputy for Barger.
As officials begin to re-engage in the process, results of the needs assessment would guide funding discussions should an agreement be reached, added English.
The Senior Center operated at the Newhall building on Market Street for 40 years before moving to its new Bella Vida facility on Golden Valley Road in April 2019.