Santa Clarita city officials and political leaders cut the red ribbon for the new Canyon Country Community Center – which will be open to all residents as a hub for various programs.
The 25,000-square-foot community center features a playground with an inclusive play area, half a basketball court, an outdoor event space, a demonstration kitchen, computer technology, fitness rooms, a gymnasium and unique art installations, according to city officials.
“People worked diligently and they worked very hard just to get the concept,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda. “Once you had the concept, you had to get the implementation done. Again, not easy, but it took an entire community of grassroots movement, and it took you guys wanting this. It took these guys helping to make it happen.”
Additionally, a water filtration system was installed underneath the parking lot that will allow the city to capture water runoff from Sierra Highway and improve existing water flow while also reducing water pollution, according to city officials.
The concept of this project has been in discussion for more than 10 years said City Manager Ken Striplin. The city first rented out space then built a 5,000-square-foot community center, he added.
“We knew once we opened it was going to be too small,” Striplin said.
The $55 million project, which includes land acquisition, buying the businesses in the area to move them, contracts and more, will provide much-needed amenities for the Canyon Country community, and the city as a whole, according to Striplin.
The new center located on Flying Tiger Drive at Sierra Highway has come a long way, according to Miranda. There used to a scattering of buildings, a vacant lot full of brush and debris and one “exceptionally large and not-so-attractive billboard,” he added.
The new center itself will be a hub for classes, activities and programs for youth and adults. City staff will also begin to organize special community events and workshops specifically to assist residents with personal and professional development.
“I want to say one of the things we put into this center from the very beginning in our thinking, this is not just a place for kids,” Miranda said. “This is a place for everybody.”
Marcia McMahon, a senior citizen, said she moved to Santa Clarita four years ago and she had a hard time making friends until she decided to stop by the previous community center.
“I was feeling alone and out of place, McMahon said. “Luckily, there was a new center on the corner of where I worked and that’s when I started to (experience) the love and care from the team that worked in that small center.”
Zalliah Simmons, a city recreational staff member, spoke about her experience participating in the summer program at the Newhall Community Center and growing older to eventually work for the city’s recreational department.
She said throughout the years of participating the city’s programs as a teen, and eventually as a young adult working with the city, she understands the importance of having a community center for the youth.
“I returned to the Canyon Country Community Center and I was then promoted to a recreational leader,” Simmons said. “I began planning and getting things ready for the after-school program that (we) will have here starting Nov. 1.”
Michael Oliveri, a Canyon Country resident for more than 29 years, said the new center is beautiful.
“It gives us so many more options to go out with the kids and do things on the weekend,” Oliveri said. “We don’t have to drive across town for the perfect place.”
Many local leaders came to support the grand opening of the community center, including Santa Clarita City Council members, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, Sen. Scott Wilk, Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a representative from her office, as she was unable to attend.
“This pandemic has been very isolating for a lot of people,” Valladares said. “This is going to open doors, so that we can engage with our neighbors in a fun manner. We can bridge the gap between generations in this valley and continue our growth in the small-town type of community that we live in.”