Grant floats dreams of Petaluma small boat dock
Eric Gneckow | Argus-Courier Staff | November 20, 2016
Plans to improve recreation and access along the Petaluma River took a step forward this month with a pledge of $100,000 toward construction of a new small-boat dock at Steamer Landing Park.
The matching grant, by the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, was the first major boost for the $300,000 project, which would replace a popular yet makeshift small-craft dock with an upgraded version that includes better access for the handicapped.
Next comes efforts to secure additional grants and local funding to match the district’s contribution, with hopes to build the dock “within the next two years,” said Stephanie Bastianon, executive director of Friends of the Petaluma River, which is leading the effort.
“It really will be an asset for the city of Petaluma to have this state-of-the-art float system,” she said.
The money came as part of $3.4 million in grants awarded for open space-related projects centered in urban areas. Awards ranged in size from $35,000 to $1 million.
The district provides the money on an annual basis, and this year was unusual for the sheer number of awards, said Jennifer Kuszmar, matching grant coordinator. Income from the sales tax that supports the district was larger than expected, and coupled with money left over from some under-budget projects, gave the district more money to award this year.
While Friends of the Petaluma River had requested $150,000 in funding, Kuszmar said the award reflected a desire on the part of the board to provide at least some of the requested funding to a wide variety of applicants. Requests totaled $7.2 million this year, she said.
“We felt there were so many compelling projects this round, we actually awarded more than our budgeted amount,” she said. “Steamer Landing was one that evaluated really high, but due to the competitive nature, we provided a partial funding award.”
Located at the base of the McNear Peninsula, the 10 acres of land comprising Steamer Landing Park was itself purchased in part through an Open Space District grant in 1996. The city of Petaluma provided matching funds, and Friends of the Petaluma River now maintains the park under an agreement with the city.