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Steve Lunetta: Parking woes at the Canyon Theatre Guild

Right About Now

Posted: February 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2011 1:55 a.m.

What could be creepier?

Envision a little man in a purple coat who likes to give candy to little kids. He cavorts with dwarfs about his secretive schemes behind closed gates.

And to top it all off, he leaves his whole empire to a snot-nosed kid named Bucket who comes from a long line of toothpaste-cap twisters.

Yes, it’s Willy Wonka.

Well, there are some creepier things. Like Gov. Jerry Brown’s portrait in the state Capitol. And Frank Ferry’s “Mayor Dude” posters. And the city of Santa Clarita’s love for traffic circles. Really creepy.

But Willy Wonka is the subject of a beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which raises him from “creepy” to “mildly disturbing.” And putting Wonka on stage for little kids to see almost makes him respectable.

Canyon Theatre Guild’s current production of “Willy Wonka” was recently given a good review by The Signal, so Trish and I decided to check it out. We were not disappointed.

Tim McGowan’s portrayal of Wonka was animated and fun. But the kids really stole the show.

Fiona Perry as Veruca Salt and Emma Howard as Violet Beauregarde were astounding in their roles as obnoxious children. We can only hope that both of them wind up in Hart High School’s show choir.

John Morris was also a standout. Not only because his rendition of “Candy Man” was good, but he also ushered patrons before the show and helped seat someone in the audience two minutes after his solo on stage. Talk about a guy who does it all.

Everything was perfect for our theater date except one thing.

The parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Sixth was closed with a big, nasty cable strung across the entrance. Bear in mind, this parking lot is adjacent to the CTG.

With all of the street parking taken — note to city: Thanks for switching those parking spots back to normal. Hope you fired the guy who thought of reversing them. Or maybe he’s now designing your traffic circles? — We had to park over at the train station along with several other theater patrons. With kids.

Imagine the fun we had running across Railroad Avenue to get to the theater. Dragging those little darlings through the busy thoroughfare to get to the newly developed downtown area.

That’s much better than the Main and Sixth parking lot. We wouldn’t want parking to be convenient or anything.

Apparently, the city has declined to rent the lot from the owners. I assume this is over a budget or cost-saving issue. I don’t know many of the facts, but that has never stopped me from commenting before.

I was able to contact the city’s director of small parking lot rentals, Mike U. Haul, and asked him to make a statement about the city’s failure to rent the parking lot.

“Mr. Lunetta, we here at the city of Santa Clarita understand that a lack of parking really strangles the commerce in the downtown area, a place where we have spent billions of dollars building it up in the last few years.

“Of course, the theater is really important to us. In fact, the next time ‘Chicago’ plays, all city employees are going to be given front-row seats. We believe that civic theater is the lifeblood of the city’s downtown area.

“However, the parking lot at Sixth and Main does not fit into our Strategic Parking Plan. We have blown our wad on library consultants and PR firms this year, so there is no more money for parking lots.”

That seems to explain quite a bit. But it is hard to believe that the rental of a parking lot could be such a challenging issue.
The owners of the lot are taking a loss when the lot is not rented. And the city takes a loss when folks don’t stay in the area and spend money, since there is no place to park.

Couldn’t there be a compromise? It appears that a solution that makes the parking lot available to theater patrons and downtown shoppers would be beneficial to all concerned.

How about giving the theater a special parking-lot deal so that children don’t have to walk to the theater from the train station?

City of Santa Clarita, we anxiously await your response.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and can be reached at Steve really dislikes Wonka candies and prefers the simplicity of 3 Musketeers. His column represents his own opinion and not necessarily that of the Signal.


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