County officials are meeting next month to discuss a proposal to renovate Mentryville, an oil boom “ghost town” and California State Historic Landmark, into an “at-risk youth facility.”
A public meeting is scheduled to be held at the West Ranch Town Council meeting June 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Stevenson Ranch Library Community Room, officials said.
The project proposal was submitted by the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority would “revise the name, description and location of” the East Canyon At-Risk Youth Vocational Training Center Project to the proposed Mentryville-Johnson Park At-Risk Youth Facility Project.
The agenda item also requests to find the project to be “categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act,” according to the agenda item.
On Nov. 17, 1998, the county awarded $250,000 in Competitive Grant Funds pursuant to the Los Angeles County Safe Neighborhood Parks Proposition of 1992 to the MRCA for the East Canyon At-Risk Youth Vocational Training Center Project, according to the agenda item. The project consisted of construction and renovation of a motel in East Canyon within the MRCA-owned Santa Clarita Woodlands Park and development of a vocational training and visitor center, native tree nursery and park maintenance center for at-risk youth.
The 1992 proposition also provides $12 million for competitive grants to develop at-risk youth recreation and service facilities throughout Los Angeles County, according to the news release. The proposition also states that funds given to the MRCA cannot exceed the amount of $3 million.
The old motel was damaged by fire before the MRCA acquired the property in 1994, and “it was determined that the renovation and reuse is not feasible,” according to the agenda item.
The project proposal now consists of renovation of the restroom, camp kitchen, picnic and program areas,according to the proposal. There will also be improved access to the site to adhere to the ADA policy. Storage and a refrigerator are expected to be added to the camp kitchen.
“We are going to make the facilities better and in so doing, when we run our programs, we can run them there,” said Dash Stolarz, director of public affairs with the MRCA, adding that the Johnson Park will still be open to the public.
A group of about 10-15 kids from areas including Cypress Park, Highland Park and South Los Angeles are expected to spend overnight camping trips at the park with supervisors, she said.
“It will be a place to spend the night camping because (these kids) don’t have the opportunity to go camping with their families,” Stolarz said. “Every kid has the opportunity to sleep under the stars.”
A Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society Executive Director and former Mentryville resident, Darryl Manzer said the camp was “the wrong place for at-risk kids” noting wildlife and safety concerns.
Johnson Park is located approximately 0.7 miles up-canyon from the historic buildings in the Mentryville oil town, according to a previous story. It was developed as a park and picnic site for oil workers who lived in Mentryville.
Except for a couple of brush fires that have burned through the area, the park has sat relatively idle since the state acquired the property after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, according to the previous story.
Mentryville was an oil boom town in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Oil was first found in 1876 and was pumped until 1990.
County supervisors postponed discussion of the agenda item until a future date that was not known Tuesday.