Santa Clarita Councilwoman Marsha McLean completed her second nonsecutive year as mayor Tuesday, handing the gavel to first-term Councilwoman Laurie Ender at the City Council’s annual reorganization meeting.
McLean reflected on the city’s accomplishments during her mayoralty in her outgoing address, which follows (as prepared for delivery):
Good evening. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving as your Mayor this year. It has been an incredible year for me and for our City. I’d like to tell you about a few of the highlights for 2011.
This spring, we celebrated the completion of our first community garden project at Central Park. All 80 plots are full and surplus vegetables grown there are donated weekly to the SCV Food Pantry.
If you’ve driven down Creekside road, you’ve probably noticed the new Creekside Road streetscape project, which added landscaping, traffic calming measures and benches to “auto row.” This work, totally funded by the Auto Dealers Association through a landscape maintenance district, also provides new safety measures for pedestrians as well as vehicles.
In May, we gathered as a community to dedicate the Fallen Warriors Memorial Bridge at Golden Valley. The monument at the bridge honors those who have died serving their country and all of us during the War on Terror.
Perhaps one of the biggest events of the year for the City was the grand opening of our new Santa Clarita Public Libraries. The City now owns and operates the three local libraries: Canyon Country, Newhall and Valencia. During the first week of July we held grand opening festivities and library patrons now enjoy increased hours of operation, a $900,000 infusion of new books and media, upgraded facilities, and new technology. To date, the City has distributed over 35,000 City library cards and is welcoming over 2,000 patrons per day at the three branches.
This has been a big year for law enforcement and 2011 marks a double digit drop in our part one crime rate, making it the lowest in our City’s history. Special teams, the new Zone Program, Crime Tip program and Gang and Juvenile Task Forces have improved safety for our community.
This summer, we dedicated over 500 acres of open space called the Haskell Canyon open space. This area was originally proposed as a housing development and now will be preserved forever as open space. Overall we have preserved over 6,000 acres of open space in perpetuity.
In August, we held our “Topping Out” ceremony for the new, 30,000 square foot library in Old Town Newhall. The event commemorated the final steel being added to the new, state-of-the-art library. We also dedicated a 50-year time capsule that will be buried at the new library site.
Also in August, we hosted Senator Barbara Boxer at the Transit Maintenance Facility, dedicating our federally-funded new solar panel project that is providing 97% of the energy needed to power that facility, saving the City $144,000 per year.
This year, the City continued our Thursdays in Newhall program inclusive of the weekly farmers market, the Art Walk and the new and very successful SENSES events. We also hosted our annual Marathon and Mayor’s Walk, attracting thousands of athletes and volunteers. The annual Cowboy Festival, Earth/Arbor Day, the Summer Concerts in the Park and several other great events and programs were also held this year.
In October, we kicked off two projects in Old Town Newhall at a groundbreaking event. These projects will add 93 spaces to the Newhall Metrolink Station as well as a new, half acre passive park to the adjacent Newhall Community Center.
In November, we joined with the West Ranch Town Council and area residents at a groundbreaking event to begin a landscape project at Lyons Avenue and Interstate 5. This project will greatly enhance a major gateway to our City. We’ve also completed a series of landscape projects city-wide that help to beautify our community.
I’m particularly proud of our City’s financial state. Through prudent fiscal planning, we have a 100% track record for a balanced and on-time budget, yet we are still able to fund important programs and projects such as the creation of a community center in Canyon Country.
We must continue to make sure that our older, established areas of the City are given the necessary attention to keep our entire City safe and economically viable.
This year, I was appointed to the Southern California Association of Government’s or SCAG’s High Speed Rail Sub-Committee. I also serve on SCAG’s Transportation committee, where I represent our City and the North County; I also serve as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Orange Line Development Authority.
Locally, I serve on the SCV Chamber’s Transportation Committee and the City’s High Speed Transportation Ad Hoc Committee. I am also a longtime member of the North County Transportation Coalition. By participating in these state and regional organizations my goal is to make sure that Santa Clarita’s interests and needs are represented at every level of planning. By continually working with these groups, we can make sure that our City benefits from the transportation planning and ultimately the projects that result from this work.
There are a few items on this list that are works in progress that will continue into next year. One of these is the effort to prevent large scale mining in Soledad Canyon which we will continue working towards through legislation.
We are still working on the clean up and future of the Whittaker Bermite property located in the center of the City. Only a small portion of the nearly 1,000 acres needs to be cleaned up. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness, but we need to realize the facts.
Having our residents understand that we are here to serve you that we are easily accessible and willing to listen and learn from you has always been important to me. This year I again made communication with your City Council and staff a high priority. The City Council, the staff and I regularly receive and respond to hundreds of emails every month and we encourage you to use this easy method of communication to reach out to us.
We’ve been using a variety of social media with great success and this year, we’ve seen a 70% increase in people communicating with us through our social media.
While some things are beyond our control because of State and Federal Regulations, it doesn’t mean we just lie down and accept the status quo. We have fought and won on many issues and as your councilwoman, I will continue to fight hard along with my fellow councilmembers to advocate for our residents in vital matters that can adversely affect our City.
It has been my honor to serve as your Mayor. I want to thank my fellow council members for their incredible work this year I also want to give a big thank you to our community for your support of our City.
McLean receives a ceremonial gavel as a gift from the city staff.
The Silver Toned Signers opened the annual gavel-passing ceremony with Christmas carols.