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A chat with the mayor

Posted: October 7, 2008 9:12 p.m.
Updated: December 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Lisa Wright decided to take a couple hours out of her Monday evening to listen to Mayor Bob Kellar and five of her fellow Saugus residents talk about the issues affecting her neighborhood during the city's first town hall meeting.

"I wanted to see what the topics were," Wright said while sitting inside the Highland Elementary School's multi-purpose room.

While she does not regularly attend City Council meetings, Wright appreciates the informal setting of the town hall meeting because it creates a comfortable setting for an "average person."

"I think it's good," she said.

The majority of concerns residents discussed at the Saugus session involved traffic and parking concerns.

TimBen Boydston, president of the Santa Clarita Neighborhood Coalition, asked Kellar about last week's removal of the traffic diverters at Benz Road and Alaminos Drive in Saugus.

"I would like an answer from the city about why the decision was made so hastily just after a couple of days," said Boydston, a former councilman.

Kellar's response involved the complex nature of solving a traffic problem like the one at Benz Road.

"This is not an easy issue," he said.

The complexity of the traffic situation was amplified after the installation of the concrete barriers.

"There was such an unbelievable outpouring," he said.

The city received two thank you calls while another 300 phone calls and e-mails objected to the diverters, he said.

Benz Road residents worked with the city for five years in constructing a plan to remedy the traffic concern, said Benz Road resident Tony Natoli.

"We did not become a lynch mob," he said, adding the diverters deserved a "fair trial."

"We're trying to do the right thing for the community," Kellar said.

While Monday's town hall meeting focused on Saugus, city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said each session is tailored to each community and brings up projects and programs specific to that area.

The sessions were designed to be "informal" and separate from City Council meetings.

The end result is a chance for the mayor to hear from the four communities.

"It's all about really reaching out to the community and talking to them one on one," Ortiz said.


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