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City Council considers plan to take over Hart Park

Historical reenactors from left, Ralph Castor, Joe Riddle, Dave Kanawah and Dan Cervantes dressed in Texas style Cowboy regalia sit around a period correct camp site at The 2019 Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival held at William S. Hart Park in Nehwall on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is set Tuesday to discuss whether to request that Los Angeles County transfer ownership of William S. Hart Park to the city.  

The formal request would follow years of informal requests made by the city due to the park’s proximity to the refurbished Old Town Newhall, it being home to a number of city events, such as the annual Cowboy Festival, and it being connected to a number of other local events, programs and historical portions of the community.  

“While still a question the council will have to decide …since the city of Santa Clarita was incorporated in 1987, there has been interest in adding William S. Hart Park to the city’s park system,” Carrie Lujan, a spokeswoman for the city, said on Friday. “In fact, the first city manager, the late George Caravalho, requested that Los Angeles County give the park to the city.” 

Since Hart’s death in 1946, the county of Los Angeles has owned and operated the 160-acre park, which includes William S. Hart Park, the William S. Hart Museum, historic Heritage Junction, many native plants and animals, a herd of American bison, hiking and nature trails, a large picnic area and buildings that had been personally used by William S. Hart. 

The City Council agenda item states that being given ownership of the park, located at 24151 Newhall Ave., would assist the city in cementing Main Street as the community’s arts and entertainment district, as well as give the city additional opportunities for events in the future.  

“Santa Clarita would welcome the chance to add the park to our system and explore new opportunities for programming, activities, historical celebrations and recreation,” Lujan added.  

“The city of Santa Clarita has made a substantial investment in the revitalization of the Old Town Newhall arts and entertainment district and has collaborated with the county on events at Hart Park for the past several years,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement sent to The Signal on Friday. “While I have not had an opportunity to review or discuss their proposal, I am open to the possibilities that will continue to allow for the enjoyment of this historic park for all those who come to visit.”  

If approved, the action item would result in local officials sending a letter to Barger requesting that the city and county begin formal discussions on the details surrounding the transfer of ownership and operations of William S. Hart Regional Park to the city of Santa Clarita. 

“Should the City Council approve the recommended action and should the county agree to the concept, staff will return to the City Council at a later date with a comprehensive report,” reads the agenda item. “This report would include future financial obligations, details on deed restrictions, and the process and timeline to complete the transfer for the City Council to review and consider.”  

The regular meeting for the Santa Clarita City Council is set to take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.  

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