City Council to consider proposals to name two pieces of land

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Watson/The Signal
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Santa Clarita City Council members are set to discuss Tuesday the proposed naming of two pieces of land, one that would honor former City Councilman Dennis Koontz and another for a family that has donated several acres to the city for open space preservation. 

A future open space trailhead in the Tesoro area could be named after Koontz, a longtime community member who was elected to the first City Council in 1987 and was part of the city’s Formation Committee, according to the agenda report. 

The city has worked to have annexed from Los Angeles County to Santa Clarita the Tesoro del Valle community located north of Copper Hill Drive and west of San Francisquito Canyon Road, which consists of 1,786 acres and is currently developed with 1,077 units, an elementary school, private recreational amenities and the county-operated Tesoro Adobe Historic Park.

Koontz is credited with being a part of the annexation efforts, according to Councilman Cameron Smyth, who suggested last month placing the matter on the agenda for Tuesday. 

“I would like to ask as well that for the same meeting we discussed possibly naming one of the trailheads in Tesoro for former council member Dennis Koontz, who lives in that area, was a founding council member, and has played a key role in trying to get Tesoro annexed over to the city and I think it would be a nice opportunity for us to do something for him,” said Smyth. 

Councilwoman Laurene Weste said during the meeting Koontz “was a tremendous supporter of both parks and trails and open space so that is totally appropriate.”

Council members are also set to consider a request to name approximately 350 acres of land located adjacent to the city-owned Newhall Pass open space area as the “Gates Family Wildlife Preserve,” according to the city agenda report. 

The request comes from Mark T. Gates Jr. on behalf of the Gates family, according to Councilwoman Marsha McLean. 

“He (Gates) has donated many, many acres of public open space and he is asking in the name of his family for some of the acreage that he has donated, to have it named for his family,” she said during the same December meeting. 

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. 

Needham Ranch originally belonged to prohibitionist Henry Clay Needham, who bought the property in 1889, according to the SCV Historical Society. In 1957 his heirs sold about 770 acres of the property to Mark Gates Sr., the funeral director at Eternal Valley Cemetery. Gates later sold off the 220-acre cemetery portion and the 350 acres of land transferred to the city was part of a development agreement associated with the Gates King project, according to the city agenda report. 

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