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Oil-refinery tour reveals potential for the property

Officials, residents take look at unused Newhall lot

Posted: April 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
A group stands by one of the original oil-storage tanks as it tours the site of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall on Wednesday. Developers are currently paying for a $40,000 planning project to assess the lot’s development potential. A group stands by one of the original oil-storage tanks as it tours the site of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall on Wednesday. Developers are currently paying for a $40,000 planning project to assess the lot’s development potential.
A group stands by one of the original oil-storage tanks as it tours the site of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall on Wednesday. Developers are currently paying for a $40,000 planning project to assess the lot’s development potential.
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A few rusted oil tanks jut out from vibrant green hills where the Pioneer Oil Refinery’s oil stills that once produced kerosene now stand covered in graffiti.

About 20 feet away, an antique oil pump-house sits, partially buried in silt.

Almost 30 people, including two Santa Clarita City Council members, drank in these sights during a tour of the refinery Wednesday afternoon, as they prepared to get serious about the refinery’s long-term plan.

Pioneer workers first started extracting oil on the 4.5-acre refinery site in 1876.

“I’m just excited they’re going to restore it, so it doesn’t fall apart anymore,” said Pat Saletore, the SCV Historical Society’s executive director, gesturing to one of the original oil tanks. “Something like this really needs to be preserved.”

City Councilwoman Laurene Weste said she has held onto relics from the 19th-century-era Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall for 25 years, waiting for the day the historic site would be restored so she could return the rusted pieces to their rightful place.

Afterward, the group participated in an introductory meeting to help brainstorm a “master plan” for the property’s renovation.

City officials said the master plan they’ll form over the next few months should map out how to renovate the crumbling structures and upgrade the surrounding area into a park with trails, new roads and a protected wildlife corridor. And maybe some picnic tables, too.

From the city’s trolley, visitors gazed out the windows at a tumbleweed drifting by while bulldozers lifted mounds of asphalt at a concrete recycling center encroaching on a portion of the property.

Gould said this and other businesses overlapping onto the former refinery property are temporary, and will move before initial construction on the site begins.

The Gate-King Industrial Park will be built around the historic site. Developer Mark Gates said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the development project moving forward.

Ideally, construction on both the refinery site and the industrial park would begin around the same time, Gates said.

The $40,000 planning process, led by architectural consultants from RJM Design Group, is being paid for with developer fees, said Rick Gould, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services director.

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