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SCVNews.com | City Arts Commission to Plan Newhall Entry Feature | 09-12-2011
Santa Clarita CA
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1971 - Tejon Ranch Co. torches the run-down Hotel Lebec [story]

The Santa Clarita Arts Commission could decide as early as Thursday what it wants to go in the middle of a reconfigured intersection at Old Town Newhall’s southern entrance.

On July 12 the City Council instructed the commission to take the lead in designing a major piece of public art for the center of the Newhall roundabout. The traffic circle will replace the existing configuration of the Newhall Avenue and Main Street intersection.

While roundabouts are more commonplace on the East Coast and in Europe than they are in California, Santa Clarita Valley residents are familiar with them. The Newhall roundabout would be somewhat similar to the roundabouts at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall and the junction of Hasley Canyon and The Old Road off of Interstate 5 in Castaic.

The council instructed the Arts Commission to craft a bid package that would “specifically request an iconic piece of art” for the roundabout, to “portray, address or celebrate the history or heritage of Newhall.”

A staff report suggests that some “thematic components” could include a representation of Western filming, Spanish or Mexican-era vaqueros (cowboys), the oil industry, agriculture, gold mining, transportation, geography, natural history or local native American culture.

At its meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, the Arts Commission is scheduled to decide how it wants the solicitation to read. The commission could decide exactly what it wants, or it could leave it wide open for bidders to propose their own ideas for something “historic,” or the commission could do anything in between.

In early 2012, the bid package would open to all artists 18 and older who want to submit design concepts. Each of five bidders whose designs are approved for the next step in the process would receive a $500 stipend.

The Arts Commission would then select and rank two finalists, and the community would get a chance to vote on them through online and off-line polling. If the community agrees with the commission’s top selection, the winning bidder’s design concept would be recommended to the to City Council for approval.

If the community disagrees with the Arts Commission’s top pick by a margin of 10 percent or less, the commission’s No. 1 selection would go for council approval. If the community prefers the commission’s No. 2 selection by more than 10 percent, that one would be recommended to the City Council, which makes the final decision in any case.

The project was budgeted for $45,000, but the city is trying to raise funds to increase the budget to a maximum of $80,000.

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