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Roseland Review by Duane Dewitt

Roseland Really Reeling

Sep 27, 2017
by Duane Dewitt

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“Wealthy Whitesiders have been deciding what happens to Roseland for over a century,” said a Roseland native who attended a Saturday Sept. 16 meeting at the Roseland Community Center. He was referring to how a Santa Rosa city staff member from the Recreation and Parks department had told a crowd of about 25 Roseland folks they would not be the “main voice” for how the Roseland Creek Park would be “developed”.

Most of the Roseland residents in attendance at the meeting pointed out they do not want anything developed at the site. Many were members of a community effort for a Nature Preserve to be protected at the site with funding from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space Districtback in 2010. The city staffer, and a consultant hired by the city, pointed out how a city wide discussion would be held for “a community park” on a new website the city opened on Sept 18. The website does not reflect any of the comments made by Roseland residents on the 16th, though it is the exact same disputed plan shown to the residents with no changes made to it.

Many leaving the meeting vowed to ”push back” on the effort by the city of Santa Rosa to override the will of the local community for a plan the community thought was finished over 5 years ago. They thought the plan had been adopted by the Santa Rosa City Council. But current Recreation and Parks Dept. staff said this was not the case. They claim the city never adopted the former plan so it is now open to redesign. New staff were hired by the city to replace Marc Richardson, a disgraced former Recreation and Parks Dept. Director who resigned a few years ago. He resigned in part because of his mishandling of the taxpayer owned lands at 1400 Burbank Ave. and 1027 McMinn Ave. which will be the park near Roseland Creek. This is where a Bikeway and Greenway were planned on the south side of the creek over a decade ago in a plan adopted by the city after spending $100,000.00 for a Roseland Creek Concept Plan.

The next city meeting about this park will be on Saturday Oct. 14 at 3 pm in the afternoon at the Roseland Village Community Center. The address is 779 Sebastopol Rd. Other meetings where Roseland residents can voice their concerns about the Roseland Neighbor Wood and theRoseland Creek Greenway are at both city and county agencies. On Thursday October 5, 2017 at 5 pm is the Fiscal Oversight Committee for the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Residents can speak at the beginning of the meetng in the public comments section to describe their concerns about how the city intends to destroy all of the expensive buildings on the sites the county taxpayers purchased at top prices. The land was then given to the city of Santa Rosa. The Committee will meet at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District headquarters at 747 Mendocino Ave.

There will also be a meeting with the Vital Lands Initiativeof the District onMonday Oct. 16, at 6pm at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building located at 1351 Maple Ave. in Santa Rosa. It is stated “The Vital Lands Initiative will include significant community input and involvement,” and “Outline clear strategies for conserving our land,” plus “Enhance partnerships with community groups and organizations.” This will be an excellent time for Roseland residents to weigh in on how the vital lands of Roseland Neighbor Wood and Roseland Creek Bikeway / Greenway need to be preserved after the District has spent over $4 million to acquire the lands in the first place. Santa Rosa is now trying to get the District to spend close to $1 million more for another piece of land there. Many feel this is unnecessary.

Two of the main points of contention are the city of Santa Rosa is no longer planning for the bikeway/greenway across the southern property. Also the city no longer wants to do a Pomo Interpretive Village park as originally planned on the creek’s southern edge. Some Pomo Indians from Roseland, and still living in Roseland, feel this is a deliberate slight from Santa Rosa against a disadvantaged underserved community here before the city existed.

Santa Rosa is hosting a Community Open House on Wed. Oct. 11 at 6pm to 7:30 pm in the Roseland Village community Center at 779 Sebastopol Rd. There should be time to talk with the Community Advisory Board members for the city about Roseland concerns. By then it should be possible to know if the city is going to complete annexation of the Roseland County Island formed by the city in 1996. If annexation occurs this may lead to District Elections in the future for Santa Rosa. If Roseland were to have a specific elected official representing it at the city level, as well as the county level, there may be better public policy and planning for parks and natural open spaces in the future.

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