Edith LeBoeuf | Gibbon Center Move Questioned

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

The following is a copy of a letter to Alma Rodriguez, operations and development manager of the Gibbon Conservation Center in Saugus. 

I am writing to inform you of my concerns with your plans to relocate the Gibbon Conservation Center from Santa Clarita to Parkhill Road in Santa Margarita.  

I assume you have already been informed by residents of Parkhill Road of what you will encounter when you reside in the Parkhill Road/Santa Margarita area. I am wondering if your agent through Sothebeys Real Estate gave you all this information upfront, and if so, why would you seek Santa Margarita as a desirable location move over Santa Clarita. 

Our residence is directly across the street from your desired location. Santa Margarita is not a “coastal location.” Parkhill Road is 20 minutes from the town of Santa Margarita, 45-60 minutes from any coastal location with the moderate temperatures you seem to require for the Gibbons. 

Temperatures on Parkhill Road in the summertime average 100-120. Yesterday temperature at my house was 85 degrees. If the Gibbons require misting as they currently do in the Santa Clarita location, you should expect that practice will continue here, from May or earlier to September, 24/7. Three weeks ago we had frost, last month hail, last winter snow. This winter was one of the coldest we have experienced in the 10 years we have resided on Parkhill Road, using our heater daily, which we have not experienced before. Your cages do not appear to have a design that would keep the gibbons protected from the extreme temperatures we encounter here. Santa Margarita is experiencing climate change, drought, water shortages, wildfires. 

Because of the drought, Parkhill residents are never sure if their well will have sufficient water. Some don’t, and need to supplement with water deliveries that average $200 per delivery. We have already observed water trucks making deliveries. The Parkhill property you are considering shares water with several households, and our rainfall totals this year are far below average. There is also a concern of what chemicals, cleaners and water contaminants your facility could infuse into our shared drinking water. 

Parkhill Road encounters fires every summer. Last year’s fire came right to the back of the property you are pursuing. Fire planes, bulldozers, water trucks, emergency vehicles up and down Parkhill road for a week. Some residents have had their fire insurance dropped, denied, or premiums increased. 

Do you have an evacuation plan for 40 gibbons, staff, guests? How soon will you be able to leave, while your neighbors are loading their livestock trailers? Will you be able to get out before the Sheriff’s Department closes off the road? A fire two summers ago had me unable to access my residence for two days. I was 20 minutes from home when I received the fire alert. Increased vehicle and human traffic guarantee an increase in fire danger. 

The gibbon website noted gibbons are sensitive to noise and dust. Both items are prevalent on Parkhill Road — airplanes overhead, tractors, farm equipment, traffic, gunshots, fireplace smoke, backyard burning. The excess noise and dust that will be produced from traffic generated by deliveries to the facility, gibbon zoo visitors, staff, is a very real concern for the residents of Parkhill Road. Excess traffic equals excess dust and noise for every resident. 

Residents of Parkhill Road make many compromises and adjustments to reside in the beauty and country quiet that is an attraction of this area of Santa Margarita, and desire to keep what they have invested in as their retirement residence; a place that is a pleasure to come home to, not to reside next to a zoo of screaming gibbons, increased traffic, trash and dust. 

I hope you are considering the concerns Parkhill residents have, and will make known at all public hearings concerning the relocation of the Gibbon Conservation Center. 

Edith LeBoeuf 

Santa Margarita 

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