Ag + Open Space Board Approves $5.8 Million for Community-Led Open Space Projects Countywide

Ag + Open Space Board Approves $5.8 Million for  Community-Led Open Space Projects Countywide

March 23, 2021

Posted in: Press Releases

Ag + Open Space Board Approves $5.8 Million for
Community-Led Open Space Projects Countywide

Funding will go towards new and enhanced parks, trail connections, and increased accessibility

SANTA ROSA, CA (March 23, 2021) – Today, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) recommended funding for new recreational projects within or near urban areas throughout Sonoma County. Through its Matching Grant Program, which solicits applications every two years, Ag + Open Space provides funding for acquisition, restoration, and recreational development projects that offer benefits to our urban communities. This cycle, the Board recommended $5,805,600 in funding for six projects throughout the county that will add 145 acres of new and enhanced parks, trail additions, and several new access points to existing local parks.

“Across the county, our communities are healthier and happier when they have access to nature,” said Lynda Hopkins, Ag + Open Space Board Chair and 5th District Supervisor. “Through this enhanced cycle of Matching Grant program funding, residents will gain a connection to the Bodega Bay Trail, a larger and more accessible Crane Creek Regional Park, and a “Central Park” for Petaluma. Connecting with the outdoors has been more critical than ever this year, so a substantial investment in protecting open space within our cities and towns is absolutely money well spent.”

Going into the 2020 funding cycle, Ag + Open Space set the budget at $4 million. However, this program is a key tool for Ag + Open Space to ensure all of our communities have equitable access to parks and open space, so staff were able to find savings in previously approved projects that then enabled a recommended increase to over $5 million. Further, this round of applications was particularly strong, and when local sales tax revenue did not dip as much as expected as a result of the pandemic, a fiscally responsible path emerged to allow the program to fund the top-ranked projects.

“We were very impressed with all of the applications we received this cycle, but six really rose to the top in terms of providing a major increase in urban open space,” said Caryl Hart, Ag + Open Space interim General Manager. “The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced how vital it is for our communities to have equitable access to parks and open spaces, and funding a larger portfolio of projects than in years past will help to ensure all county residents feel connected to and supported by nature.”

This cycle’s projects include the creation of two new parks, the expansion and enhancement of three existing parks, and a trail connection in Bodega Bay. In north county, a new 36-acre park will be coming to Healdsburg to provide open space and recreation for future residents of adjacent housing developments, including some affordable housing units, to exercise, play, and relax. This project will also include a connection to the 153-acre Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, protected by Ag + Open Space in 2003.

At the opposite end of the county, 20 acres of currently fallow open space adjacent to Steamer Landing Park on Petaluma’s McNear Peninsula will be transformed into a new additional park for recreation, art, and increased river access. With large housing developments planned on all sides of the peninsula, this “Central Park” of Petaluma will provide thousands of current and future residents with opportunities to play, learn, and explore.

In terms of extensions and enhancements, residents of Rohnert Park and the surrounding area can look forward to a 75-acre major expansion of Crane Creek Regional Park with added trails, new park connections to the City of Rohnert Park and Sonoma State, and a safe connection for pedestrians and bikers visiting via the nearby SMART station. Another much-needed enhancement will take place at A Place to Play in Santa Rosa, where in response to resounding support from residents, the city’s first ever all-weather sports fields will be installed. Lastly, the much-loved Keiser Park in Windsor will gain over two additional acres for recreation through their project, and create new entrances to this flagship park from nearby neighborhoods.

In a part of the county that is new to the Matching Grant Program, the Bodega Bay Trail will add nearly two-thirds of a mile to the California Coastal Trail, and create a multi-use path that will become a critical connection to the town of Bodega Bay.

See below for a list of all the approved projects and funding amounts (in alphabetical order):

Project Applicant/Co-Applicant Type of Project Size (acres) Approved Funding Request
A Place to Play Community Park Improvements City of Santa Rosa Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development 10 $1,000,000
Bodega Bay Trail – Coastal North Harbor Sonoma County Regional Parks Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development .7 $795,000
Crane Creek Regional Park Expansion & Copeland Creek Trail Extension City of Rohnert Park Combination: Acquisition & Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development / Restoration 75.5 $1,360,600
Healdsburg Montage Development Park

 

City of Healdsburg Combination: Acquisition & Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development / Restoration 36 $1,000,000
Keiser Park Expansion Town of Windsor Combination: Acquisition & Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development 2.3 $650,000
Petaluma River Park Petaluma River Park Foundation Improvement – Public Access / Recreation Development / Restoration 21 $1,000,000
TOTAL $5,805,600

 

About Sonoma County Ag + Open Space

Sonoma County Ag + Open Space is a special district that permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. Funded by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990 and reauthorized in 2006, the district has protected over 117,000 acres to date, and will continue to steward these and future protected lands forever. For more information, visit www.sonomaopenspace.org.

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