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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Developer Redesigns Recreation Center : Canyon Country: Planning board delays action on proposal that, in response to complaints, now focuses on family entertainment instead of teen-age activities.


CANYON COUNTRY — Responding to fears about gangs, crime and noise, a developer has redesigned plans for a commercial recreation center in rural Canyon Country, emphasizing family entertainment over teen-age pursuits.

City planning commissioners, originally scheduled to review the Santa Clarita Family Recreation Center on Tuesday night, delayed action until Jan. 17 to give residents time to become familiar with the amended proposal.

"It is not what we saw at our last meeting," said Santa Clarita Planning Commission Chairman Pat Modugno. "It's not what the public has had the opportunity to see."

As originally planned by Royal Clark Development of Beverly Hills, the amusement park featured two 18-hole miniature golf courses, nine batting cages, four water slides, bumper boats, a motorized go-cart track, video games and a snack bar.

Neighbors of the 5.8-acre site on Oak Spring Canyon Road, southeast of the Antelope Valley Freeway, called the year-round recreation center a magnet for gangs, traffic, noise and other problems. They denounced it through 28 letters, a 95-signature petition and about 1,150 form letters submitted to the City Planning Department during the past two months.

"Who the hell would plan an arcade in Canyon Country? Did the mob pay you guys off?" wrote resident Kurt Buehler.

"I am totally against this and if you pass it I will do everything in my power to get you fired or vote you out," Buehler wrote.

"In my opinion you people down there at City Hall think of Canyon Country as the ugly stepchild of Santa Clarita in comparison with projects you deem fit for Valencia," wrote resident Anne Frances Harris.

"I see this park as one way of filling the coffers of the City Council at the expense of the Canyon Country residents."

Now, the developers hope to quell such concerns by devoting the entire site to a water park and eliminating such traditional teen-age hangouts as a video arcade.

The water park would feature five slides, a wave pool, a children's pool and a slow-moving river. It would operate only part of the year and during daytime hours--reducing its impact on the surrounding neighborhood even further.

Nonetheless, many of the more than 150 angry residents who attended Tuesday's session said they oppose any use of the property that will draw outsiders to Santa Clarita.

"Any time you have a facility like this where you invite the public from the outside, you are asking for trouble," said Comet Way resident Pam Springer, predicting the park would draw "marauders from the San Fernando Valley and beyond."

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