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OFFICIALS TURN OUT FOR PARK CEREMONY.

Byline: Stacy Brown Daily News Staff Writer

Once again showing that if you build it they will come, more than 600 residents joined city officials Saturday in the long awaited groundbreaking ceremony for Santa Clarita's new Central Park.

The ceremony, which took place under a light drizzle and intermittent showers at the Bouquet Canyon site, was the first step in the construction of the city's ``crowning jewel.''

Plans for the park, which were introduced nearly a decade ago, call for several basketball and volleyball courts, an Olympic-sized pool, lighted tennis courts with a center court seating area, at least four softball fields, restrooms, landscaping, walkways, benches, a parking lot and amphitheater.

Officials said two soccer fields, featuring lights for night play, a playground and the beginning of a trail system are also part of the plans.

Although the city still has some loose ends to tie up with the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which is leasing the land for $15 per year to the city, officials said the park's completion could be as early as the summer of 1999.

``Providing recreation facilities is a very high priority for the city,'' said Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz. ``We're moving full steam ahead. This will be the crowning jewel of our valley.''

Rick Putnam, director of the parks, recreation and community services commission, said the complex will be one of the largest active parks in Los Angeles County.

``This is a great day. This will benefit all residents of this valley and everyone should be very proud,'' Putnam said.

Saugus resident Lori Callahan, who was one of many that braved rain showers to attend the ceremony, said the prospect of a central park was cause for enthusiasm by everyone.

``I'm excited and so should everyone who lives out here, especially those with children and the elderly,'' Callahan said. ``I think this will be one of the many things that'll help put and keep us on the map.''

Mayor Jan Heidt, joined councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy and members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency in shoveling the first dirt for the complex, which is expected to cover more than 130 acres.

The ceremony began with an egg hunt by hundreds of children, who joined their parents in the celebration.

The park's construction, which is scheduled to begin early this summer, is slated to be done in three phases. The city has budgeted $3 million for the first phase of 20 acres and $11 million for the entire project.

Putnam said upon its completion, the park will be approximately one-sixth the size of New York's famous Central Park, which covers 800 acres.

(1) Garrett Wedel, 3, and Mickey Myhan, 2, search for buried eggs Saturday at a park ceremony.

(2) Rick Putnam addresses the crowd during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Santa Clarita's new Central Park.

David R. Crane/Daily News

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 5, 1998
Words:483
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