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Businesses, city clash over Newhall redevelopment plans

• Owners want streetscaping done all at once

Posted: June 4, 2008 1:46 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Business owners and Newhall Redevelopment Committee members are clashing with Santa Clarita city planners on the priority list for the new changes slated for downtown Newhall.

Downtown business owners cheered as Newhall Redevelopment Committee voted Monday to recommend to the City Council that streetscaping - landscaping along the street - in downtown Newhall be done all at once and made the top priority in Newhall redevelopment.

As part of the long-term effort to spruce up downtown Newhall, the city plans to bring shade trees, shrubs, street lamps, bicycle racks and benches to Main Street. The city planned to have the block between Market and Sixth streets completed by early 2009. The rest of the blocks would be completed in sections as the new housing and commercial developments trickle in.

But the city has also moved forward with purchasing millions of dollars worth of property on the block where Main Street will dead end at Lyons Avenue, where a new library will sit. The city also plans to partially fund two parking structures when the private projects come in.

Some Newhall business owners want the city to focus its efforts and its funding to complete all of the streetscaping at once and put it at the top of the redevelopment priority list.

City planners said Monday that bringing streetscaping to all the blocks on Main Street at once would delay the bid process until next year.

Business owner Terry Carberry said if the city brings in the streetscaping in pieces, "You're devaluing the properties that aren't getting the streetscape, in particular, my business. And that business is my retirement."

Newhall property owner Frank Maga presented the committee with a list of 30 business owners who agree.

"If you do it piecemeal, you have continuing construction," Maga said. "Help fill in the vacancies on Main Street before you bring in the parking structure. The way to fill up the vacancies is the streetscaping."

A majority of the redevelopment committee members agreed.

The streetscaping would encourage business owners to improve the look of their business, said Duane Harte.

"The people on Main Street aren't going to improve (their business) if we put up a library," he said.

Former Councilman TimBen Boydston, who was in the audience, pointed out the time line listed in the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan. The library was listed in a much later phase, expected to built between 2020 and 2022.

The plan states that the library is only listed in a late phase "due to funding demands on the overall implementation plan." It says, however, that the project should be pursued "if the opportunity to implement this project occurs prior to this phase."

City officials said it will be at least a year until the library itself requires major funding.

City Community Development Director Paul Brotzman said the time line and funding is complicated and recommended that the committee allow staff to return to the committee in July with a presentation of the redevelopment budget.

He also said that in some cities, streetscaping doesn't initially make a big difference in a redevelopment area. It's the big projects like libraries that draw the public.

Committee members, however, said they have waited long enough.

"We've been waiting for streetscaping for 12 years," said Victor Feany, the owner of the Newhall Hardware store that closed its doors earlier this year. "How many businesses are going to go away? Are we just going to wait until everything's gone?"


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