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City planning purchase of 1,000 acres for open space

City Council to vote on purchase Tuesday night

Posted: June 11, 2012 4:52 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2012 4:52 p.m.

Hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders in and around the Santa Clarita Valley soon may have a new place to enjoy their favorite activities if the Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday approves the purchase of more than 1,000 acres of land in the Soledad Canyon area.

The city is considering the purchase 1,030 acres of land in 20 parcels east of Agua Dulce Canyon Road and south of Highway 14 - an area adjacent to other city-owned open space areas. The land is in an area considered a wildlife corridor between northern Angeles National Forest and southern Angeles National Forest.

The property was known as the Rio Dulce Ranch development and had a proposed 616 residential lot subdivision in the 1990s, according to a city staff report.

While the entire cost of the property has been appraised at $4.47 million - $4,340 per acre - the city is looking to spend only about half that amount up front for the property, with help from two different grants, according to a city staff report.

Open space lands cannot be used for development and serve as a greenbelt around the city. The open space preservation district was founded in 2007 and currently has 6,114 acres of land in and around the city, with much of it available for use by residents.

In May, the state's Natural Resource Agency's Wildlife Conservation Board granted $2.47 million to the city of Santa Clarita and the Riverside Land Conservancy - a nonprofit land trust that works to ensure that natural lands and wildlife habitat are preserved for future generations, according to a city staff report.

"This is the (city's) first significant partnership with the wildlife conservation board," Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Rick Gould said Friday. "Our relationship with them will allow us to purchase important pieces of land around the valley."

In addition, Los Angeles County is expected to approve the use of Prop A funds along with money from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for another $715,000 - although the county isn't expected to vote on those funds until August.

The City Council is asked to approve $2.2 million in open space preservation district funds for the property's purchase and is expected to have the $715,000 from the county and the conservation authority reimbursed after it is approved, Gould said. The total cost to the city would be $1.29 million after the other funds are approved.

"The county has always been a great partner in the purchase of open space, so I'm very confident we can make this work," Gould said.

The City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall Council Chambers, 23920 Valencia Blvd.


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