By Sarah Sikandar
Signal Staff Writer
If you’re planning a day hike or picnic in the Santa Clarita Valley, Los Cantiles Park on Bouquet Canyon Road is probably not on your list. That’s because the park, once a lush picnic spot, has been abandoned for decades.
Opened in 1972, Los Cantiles Park was originally designed as a charity project to create a picnic spot with disabled access. Planned by the Newhall-Saugus Lions Club, it was one-of-a-kind place designed and planned with the needs of the disabled population in mind, including an artificial lake. A pioneer project of the early 1970s – long before the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibited discrimination against disabled people in the public sphere – the park went through rounds of fundraising before ground was broken in 1972.
“A shovel yesterday broke through Angeles National Forest sod that some will never see or walk upon. They are the blind and handicapped for whom campgrounds are not traditionally constructed,” read The Signal headline.
Originally called Los Cantiles Handicapped Ground, where the disabled first felt welcome, it has seen many ups and downs, mostly downs. Due to a lack of funding and political will, the park fell apart gradually. It gradually morphed into a dubious place, vandalized and damaged.
“Someone even took the trouble to scramble up a 30-foot-long channel built to splash water into the lake in order to smash the water pipes at the top,” read another story 1978 story in The Signal.
Each May, Keller Williams Realty, one of the largest real estate firms in the country, celebrates Red Day. In honor of the annual Red Day, every May, as many people as possible from the organization’s local office commit to community service, and get involved with local charities like senior centers or Boys and Girls Clubs.
This year, Los Cantiles Park was selected for a cleanup project by the team. Jack Getskow, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, was part of the team that took up the project last week. Around 30 people worked around the park, trying to rehabilitate it as much as possible in a day.
Getskow laments how “gang members and druggies, destroyed all the parks, vandalized it. And to this day, at this park there’s no running water, there’s no electricity, there’s no door.” The U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land, has cited a lack of funds to rehabilitate the park.
Gestkow says the park has a lot of potential and can be turned into a useful venture if properly tended to and if it’s kept from being vandalized.