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Simi Council to Weigh 2nd Road Into Corriganville

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Simi Valley City Council will reconsider the Planning Commission’s decision to permit only one access road to be open during large special events when the former Corriganville movie ranch opens as a 204-acre park.

Council members Barbara Williamson and Bill Davis appealed the decision, citing concerns about traffic on Smith Road, a residential street designated as the park’s sole access route.

Over the objections of some Smith Road neighbors, the Planning Commission last month granted a permit for the park and approved plans for Smith Road as its entry and exit.

Neighbors had asked for another access from Sandalwood Drive, which is scheduled to be extended to the park’s western edge when a development of 200 homes known as Hope Town is built next to Corriganville.

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The developer of Hope Town, Griffin Homes, must extend Sandalwood east of Kuehner Drive to the park boundary once homes are built. The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District would be responsible for building the road through the park and connecting it to Smith, officials said.

Citing earlier City Council sentiment to keep Sandalwood gated where it runs into the park, planning commissioners decided that the street would be used only during emergencies.

The panel decided it was more appropriate for council members than planning commissioners to change an earlier council stance, Commissioner Robert Swoish said.

The appeal does not call for Sandalwood to be open permanently once it is built, Williamson said. The council members are only calling for the gates to swing open for events expected to attract more than 200 people.

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“If it’s going to be there for emergency services, why not open it up for special events?” Williamson said.

Corriganville is not expected to increase the number of cars on Smith Road substantially, except on days when special activities are planned, officials said.

But Smith Road residents would prefer Sandalwood Drive to remain open every day, homeowner Julie Willingham said.

“Smith Road is a dead-end street,” Willingham said. “From a safety standpoint, we don’t want all those cars.”

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The issue is scheduled to be considered by the council at its regular meeting Oct. 4, officials said.

Once the site of a movie ranch and a Wild West amusement park, the Corriganville property was purchased jointly by the city, the park district and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1988.

They plan to develop the land with a visitors center, picnic areas and playgrounds, as well as hiking and equestrian trails.

A separate organization is trying to raise money to restore some Western movie sets that once stood on the site. Thousands of Western movies and television shows were shot at the ranch in the 1940s and ‘50s.

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