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Dave Bossert: This could be the beginning of a beautiful alliance

Posted: November 21, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: November 21, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Sometimes great ideas can often take a circuitous and bumpy path to completion and in doing so can overlook their origin. So it has been the case with the I-5/Lyons Avenue/Pico Canyon interchange beautification project, which breaks ground today, as a partnership between Los Angeles County, the city of Santa Clarita and the West Ranch Town Council.

Back in 1998, Rick Ryan, then chairman of the Stevenson Ranch Community Association’s Landscape Committee, first floated the idea of doing a beautification project at the Lyons/Pico freeway interchange. It called for “greening up” the landscape with trees, shrubs and groundcover.

Ryan did initiate the early meetings with the county and California Department of Transportation, but the forward movement was slow at best.

Ryan then was elected to the local area town council, now known as the West Ranch Town Council, and reignited the idea in 2000. Again, the idea seemed to inch forward slowly with more conversations, but ultimately the project was relegated to the backburner for about seven or eight years.

Subsequently in 2004, Rick moved from the Stevenson Ranch community across to the Tesoro del Valle where he continues to serve the community as president of the board of directors for the community HOA.

Then, around 2008 or so, the West Ranch Town Council leadership reached out to Ken Pulskamp, the city manager for the city of Santa Clarita, to see if the city would be interested in joining with the West Ranch Town Council and Los Angeles County on the beautification project, which was getting underway. The idea was that it could be a way for the town council, the county and the city to start building a better relationship through a common good — a joint project that would benefit the entire Santa Clarita Valley.

After all, the I-5/Lyons Avenue/Pico Canyon interchange is the gateway to the Santa Clarita Valley and does not currently reflect the beauty and affluence of our community. This beautification project would be beneficial to all and give our valley communities a much better first impression; more curb appeal if you will.

Pulskamp agreed that the city should be a part of this terrific project and pledged to match the funding that Los Angeles County would be investing in the interchange landscaping project, which was already in the design discussion phase.

The West Ranch Town Council brought the county and the city together and then appointed Council Member Chuck O’Connell as the chair of the I-5/Lyons Avenue/Pico Canyon interchange beautification project. And like a steam train leaving the station, the project started to slowly pick up speed.

Chuck, a retired CalTrans executive, hit the ground running and was quite adept at working with the county, city and CalTrans in order to move the project forward. He surgically sliced through the politics and competing interests to move the project into the formal design phase; a giant leap forward in this arduous process.

All that hard work spearheaded by O’Connell on behalf of the West Ranch Town Council, Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita has finally come to fruition with the groundbreaking of the first phase of this much overdue beautification project. It is a project that will have a lasting impression on the Santa Clarita Valley and will hopefully pay many dividends into the future.

But along with O’Connell, our valley community must also acknowledge and celebrate Lisa Woung the project manager, and Richard Shieh, the landscape architect at the L.A. County Department of Public Works, for their part in facilitating and navigating this beautification project with the county. And of course, their counterparts at the city of Santa Clarita should be commended as well.

Although the project was initiated by the West Ranch Town Council, it is a project that could not be completed without the participation of many individuals and entities.

Along with acknowledging Ryan, O’Connell, Woung, Shieh, the city of Santa Clarita’s Public Works Department and the past and present leadership of the West Ranch Town Council, readers should know that none of this could have moved forward without the unwavering support of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and his staff, especially Senior Deputy for the Santa Clarita Valley Rosalind Wayman. Wayman was instrumental in moving the process along and securing funding from the county to make this project a reality.

In the 1942 film “Casablanca,” Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick says to his sometime friend, sometime nemesis, Capt. Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!” The same may hopefully be true of the I-5/Lyons Avenue/Pico Canyon interchange beautification project and the collaboration between the West Ranch Town Council, Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita.

   To read an extended version of this commentary with more information on this topic, please visit

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The Signal.


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