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Forestville Downtown Square & Park - Town Meeting Update


Forestville Downtown Square & Park
- Town Meeting Update

By Richard Naegle

About sixty-five people took two hours on a beautiful spring afternoon to
attended the Forestville Town Meeting on May 3 to review site plan designs suggested by the Town Square Planning Group (TSPG)** for the new Town Square and Open Space Park and to hear a report from Supervisor Carrillo. Go to to see the actual site plans. 


Park Design: The current plans are based on the input from the two Town Meetings last year and use the fundamental elements approved at those
meetings. See “Report on the Feb. 9, 2014 Town Meeting” at
Kristoffer Koster, of SB Architects, presented the current plan (see below) and showed building design possibilities. He and other members of the TSPG then responded to questions/comments:

Regarding “the tension between open space and activities,” the design preserves two-thirds of the property as open space while accommodating the Town’s desire for community gathering places (e.g. Holiday Tree lighting) and a stage/gazebo. The layout maximizes views to the surrounding hills and vineyards; it does not require the removal of any existing trees over 6 inches in diameter. For the County permit process, it is best to include in our design everything we might want to do in the coming years. That does not commit us to erecting any buildings but allows us the flexibility to do so.

Forestville Downtown Square & Park - No Buildings in plan

The suggested buildings (Assembly Structure and Kiosk) can only be used for purposes related to the public use and recreational easements on the
property (such as a bike shop or other concessions). The Assembly Structure could be used as a meeting hall, a farmer’s market, or possibly for art
exhibitions. Buildings could be sources of rental income to help fund the
long-term maintenance of the park

A water feature, desired by many in the community, will have to be simplified to reflect the current drought conditions.

The location of the stage will be affected by some road noise, but that is true for all of downtown Forestville. Landscaped berms along the highway and the fact that the stage site is on a slope somewhat below street level should help with this. 

Toilets are required by the County and will be useful for events, such as a farmer’s market or a musical performance. 

Forestville Downtown Square & Park - with Buildings in plan

Parking for the Park 

The Square and Park are designed to be wheelchair friendly, will allow wheelchair access to the West County Trail, and provide for 3-4 disabled parking spaces.

The new parking area will have lighting for nighttime use. 

Paving for hard surfaces will be permeable where possible (note—emergency vehicles need sufficient traction). 

Horses will continue to be allowed on the West County Trail, and there will be 2 parking spots for horse-trailers (as recommended by the County) in the parking area.

Extension of West County Trail 

Ken Tam, from the County Parks and Recreation Department, reported that the County is moving ahead with the extension of the bike trail along Mirabel Road. The bike trail will be a Class 1 trail (separate from road) to the Youth Park and then a Class 2 trail (on the shoulder of the road) to Steelhead Beach. He also reported that a $200,000 grant has been provisionally approved towards the $300,000 needed to complete the trail through the new Park.


The design and submission of County permits should be completed this spring. It is hoped the County will approve the permits by next fall. The first phase of construction then could begin in 2016 (the plaza, new parking area, restroom facilities, and possibly stage). 

Development of Adjoining Private Property

Catherine Bartolomei, representing Town Square Associates which owns the property adjacent to the Town Square and Park, reported that an easement lawsuit had prevented any plans for the property. That lawsuit now has apparently been settled, and she hopes to move ahead with plans, which she will share with the community as soon as she knows what they are. 

Forestville Downtown Park adjacent and owned by LLC

Fund Raising

Lucy Barnett announced that the FPA has started a new Fund Development Committee to help meet the needs of growing the new Park. If you have expertise and interest in helping that Committee, please contact Brian Martens via the FPA website, The Committee meets on the first Monday of the month in the meeting room of Food for Thought, 6550 Railroad Avenue, at 5:30 pm. Next meeting is June 1. 


Your comments are always welcome—go to, click on the Blog link at the top of the page, then click in the right column the category Downtown Square and Park, select a post and comment there. Let us know what you are thinking.

Report from County Supervisor Efren Carrillo

Supervisor Carrillo outlined the many issues that are currently confronting the County and Forestville. He then responded to questions:

The Roundabout is “moving ahead.” Caltrans and the County were recently successful in defending a lawsuit against the roundabout and can now move forward with the design and putting contracts out to bid. The roundabout is already fully funded. 

The widening of Mirabel Road is also fully funded and moving ahead.

Regarding the Bypass, not much is happening. Additional funding as well as environmental documentation is needed. 

Regarding the release of redevelopment money by the State, the Supervisors are focusing right now on areas where there used to be redevelopment programs. However, some of that money might be available for Forestville. 

Regarding the drought, Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino are not at critical levels yet. The new State law—The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, should address concerns about vineyards and others unduly drawing down the water table. 


**Town Square Planning Group: The land for the Town Square and Open Space Park was acquired through a public-private partnership between the Sonoma County Open Space District, the Forestville Planning Association, and a private investor group—the Town Square Associates. The land is under conservation and recreation easements that dedicate it to public use. The Town Square Planning Group consists of representatives from each partner, two local architects, Jeff Blechel and Ken Smith, Dan Northern of the Locals Alliance, and Ken Tam from the County Parks and Recreation Department. The TSPG is currently benefitting from the generous donation of expertise from the San Francisco architectural firms, SB Architects and Land Design, Inc., as well as by the local engineering firm, Adobe Associates, in Santa Rosa.


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