[KHTS] – Santa Clarita residents will have the center of their roundabout landscaped, with a minimalist approach, after two go-rounds of public input, including online surveys, and much discussion of the controversial traffic circle.
The move sets aside the most recent results of a public outreach effort that called on City Council members to “Do nothing” with the space, which Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar attributed to prior grievances residents had with the roundabout itself.
“I think a lot of those people who chose the ‘do nothing’ option didn’t want a roundabout there,” Kellar said, questioning whether those same residents would still choose that if they knew it meant barren concrete would be the centerpiece.
Click image for more views of roundabout construction.
The sentiment seemed to be echoed by three of his fellow council members, who were unhappy with the survey results for the Newhall roundabout at the intersection Newhall Avenue, Fifth Street and Main Street in Old Town Newhall.
City Councilwoman Marsha McLean had a different takeaway, as well.
“I look at the figures just a little bit differently,” McLean said.
“Almost 200 people said, ‘Do nothing,’ but 303 people said, ‘do something,’” she said. “I think (the 303) far outweighs the ‘do nothing.’”
City Councilman Frank Ferry said he wasn’t going to be around when future decisions on the topic are made, however, he didn’t think Santa Clarita became one of the greatest cities in the state by making “doing nothing” an option.
City Councilwoman Laurene Weste reconsidered her earlier stance, in light of the results, after initially feeling that the second-most popular option — a statue of Bill Hart and his horse Fritz — would be the best choice.
In September, she said, “We need to nail it down and get it started.”
On Tuesday, she suggested that the council wait until community input was solicited on a master plan for the arts community, which might bring more input and a more deliberate choice for art in the city.
“I just don’t think there’s a rush,” Weste said. “We have time to spend with the very talented arts commissioners we have,” adding that public input is always part of the process in any city of Santa Clarita decision.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston said while he wasn’t necessarily in favor of doing nothing, if that was what the people wanted, it was important to follow through on public outreach.
“I believe strongly that if you ask the people, you should listen to them,” Boydston said.
Kellar followed up on Weste’s comment, adding that the city should do an appropriate level of landscaping, since that was the second most popular option of the people who wanted to do something. (Initial cost estimates for a bronze Hart statue were placed at roughly $100,000, roughly double the centerpiece’s budget.)
“We should do some level of appropriate landscaping,” Kellar said, “and at some time in the near future when we get our master plan in place, we can take a further review.”
City Manager Ken Striplin said a motion wasn’t necessary, merely direction for staff, which was the goal of the discussion.
“We’ll proceed with doing minimal landscaping,” Striplin said, adding that that would leave the city open for input later in the process.