City Council to discuss pair of park plans  

Santa Clarita City Hall
Santa Clarita City Hall

The Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday is planning to look at an agreement to take over acres of historic park, museum and open space as well as a nearly $1.7 million plan for night lights along the exercise stairs at Central Park. 

Tuesday’s meeting agenda is the first formal consideration of a plan between the city and L.A. County that’s been discussed for years regarding the city’s acquisition of William S. Hart Park. 

“This is exciting,” said Leon Worden, vice president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, one of the organizations working to preserve the property’s history. “I know it has been a huge team effort on the part of the city staff and the county Parks Department to achieve the goal of making Hart Park all it can be for the community.” 

Hart Park  

The park would be the city’s largest at approximately 156 acres in nine parcels, which are located off Newhall Avenue, surrounding the silent film star’s historic mansion, which is a museum and part of the acquisition. 

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors agreed to enter into negotiations for the land, which is the last county park in city limits, back in July 2022.  

The City Council signed off on its 10-step process for acquisition in June 2023, with a city staff report at that time estimating the initial two-year cost to be approximately $5.7 million. 

City Manager Ken Striplin previously estimated upkeep for the property — which includes William S. Hart Park, the museum mansion, historic Heritage Junction, many native plants and animals including a herd of American bison, hiking and nature trails, a large picnic area and buildings personally used by William S. Hart — as a multimillion-dollar undertaking. 

City officials confirmed Friday that, per the agenda, the annual cost for ongoing maintenance is expected to be $2.6 million, not including the startup costs.  

The costs associated with the property transfer are expected to be part of the discussion Tuesday, with the initial costs for just the titles and transfers expected to run around $394,706. 

The city’s report indicates some of the expenses also include staffing for the museum curator and supervisor positions, expected to cost a combined $225,000 a year in ongoing expenses associated with running the Hart Park mansion on the grounds. 

The initial positions are needed because the collection the city is acquiring “comprises over 6,000 three-dimensional objects requiring ongoing care, including scheduled cleaning and occasional specialized treatment or conservation.” 

The plan and its expenses are structured in three phases, according to city officials. 

The first phase includes the assumption of the archives and valuable artifacts; the second phase includes capital improvement upgrades, as well as additional security and any additional staff deemed essential; the final phase looks at annual maintenance. 

River of Lights 

The lighting plan being discussed by council members is likely to please the evening exercise enthusiasts who enjoy a good workout at Central Park. 

The idea is to consider plans for “decorative lighting embedded in the plaza and installed along the exercise stairs,” which is in the park’s buildout the city celebrated back in October. 

The additions included multipurpose fields, a new parking lot, dog park upgrades and exercise stairs, among other additions. 

Shortly before the city’s ceremony for the buildout, the city decided to look at decorative lighting embedded in the plaza and installed along the exercise stairs. 

“The City Council provided direction to proceed with consideration to reduce anticipated costs, define hours of operation and work with the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency for educational kiosks,” according to the city’s agenda. 

The SCV Water Agency owns the city’s second biggest park, which is about 106 acres of land leased to the city. The city celebrated its first phase of the park in 2000. 

The city is proposing three informational kiosks about SCV Water as part of the plan, according to the council’s agenda. 

“Staff determined the decorative lighting will be turned off by 10 p.m. when the lights throughout Central Park are turned off,” according to the city’s agenda. “The decorative lights will be installed to avoid casting light onto the exercise stairs where hours of operation will remain from dawn to dusk.” 

A little more than $200,000 for the lights is coming from the budget for the art installation for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station lobby. That work came significantly under the $500,000 that was budgeted for it as part of city policy to reserve 1% of a project’s cost for a public art component. 

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