Parks commissioners asked to advise on Pioneer Oil Refinery’s future

The Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall. 012721/ Dan Watson/The Signal
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The city of Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission recently met to receive an update from city staff about the status of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall. 

Recreation and Community Services Manager Lance O’Keefe told the five-member commission that it has been tasked with reviewing and revising a 2013 plan for the historic site due to the expansion of the Needham Ranch development next door. 

“Pretty soon there’s going to be a multi-million-dollar commercial development all around this site, so it’s time to do something with it,” O’Keefe said of the city-owned property, which hosts California’s first successful oil refinery. 

The 2013 plan modified a 2011 plan that envisioned an educational park for the refinery. The city listed completing the most recent version of the Pioneer Oil Refinery plan as a priority in its recently released 2025 Strategic Plan. 

The city has recently made some progress in reaching its goal, including replacing bricks, patching grout and mortar, and adding support beams where needed to secure the historic refinery’s nine structures. 

Several structures have not been moved in more than a century until recently, according to O’Keefe. 

“They’ve been moved and stored so that the Needham Ranch development people can grade the site to make it a park,” he said. “We want to make sure we maintain that historic designation so we have to put everything back to as close to original as possible.” 

While the project does not have a timeline and estimated cost, O’Keefe told commissioners that developer fees collected from the Needham Ranch development will “help offset the cost of this project.” 

The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission meets on the first Thursday of every month. 

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