City Council OKs dedications in Tesoro area, Newhall Pass Open Space

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

A future open space trailhead in the Tesoro area will be named after a founding Santa Clarita city councilman, and a portion of land in Newhall after a family who has donated several acres of land to the city for open-space preservation. 

The move comes after City Council members unanimously approved the naming of both properties Tuesday during their regular meeting. 

Named for Koontz

In the Tesoro area, the city has been working to have annexed more than 1,700 acres from Los Angeles County, located north of Copper Hill Drive and west of San Francisquito Canyon Road. Within 800 acres of open space in that area are several miles of existing native soil multi-use trails and a trailhead, located at Copper Hill Drive and Avenida Rancho Tesoro will be named after former Councilman Dennis Koontz. 

Koontz is a longtime community leader, who was elected to the first City Council in 1987 and credited with being a part of the annexation efforts. 

In learning about the council’s approval, Koontz thanked the council. 

“I appreciate that you’re willing to put me up front, and thank me for what I’ve done, but I had a lot of help, and that means all the staff that helped us do our job,” he said. 

‘Gates Family Wildlife Preserve’

Located adjacent to the city-owned Newhall Pass Open Space area is 350 acres of real property the City Council also approved naming as the “Gates Family Wildlife Preserve,” following a request from Mark T. Gates Jr. on behalf of the Gates family. 

The property under consideration was transferred to the city from the Gates family through dedications and donations as part of the Gates-King Industrial Park project, now known as the Needham Ranch development in Newhall. A portion of Needham Ranch was not developed to allow for the preservation of open space and trail connectivity to the Newhall Pass Open Space, according to city officials. 

“The Gates family’s been here forever, and they have donated land that could have been developed,” said Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste. “That property is extremely rare, it’s beautiful, it’s going to add a lot to our open space and I think the family should be honored and it is most appropriate. This is a legacy for all of our children.” 

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