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Our County by Efren Carrillo

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Our County by Efren Carrillo - December 2015

by Efren Carrillo

Estero Ranch

2015 has been another banner year for open space protection in the Fifth District. Last month, our Board approved the acquisition of the Kashia Richardson property near Stewarts Point. On November 17th, we approved the acquisition of the incredible Estero Ranch property, which lies just south of Doran Beach. This amazing property – and while it might seem that I’m using a lot of superlatives here but they really do apply – is 548 acres of stunning ranch land with fields of wildflowers, incredible views from the nearly mile of Sonoma coastline, more incredible vistas and a connection to the mouth of the Estero de Americano which is at its southern boundary. The Shorttail Gulch Trail adjoins the property on the west side, and provides a connection to Doran.

Sonoma Land Trust led the effort to acquire the property which will be transferred to the Wildlands Conservancy – the organization that currently manages the Jenner Headlands. Amy Chesnut, with the Land Trust, has been pursuing this property for nearly 20 years, and it was identified as a priority with the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (APOSD) from its earliest days. APOSD will purchase a conservation and recreation easement on the property, which will aid in the purchase and allow for public access. The Wildlands Conservancy expects the property to be open for public access in 2018-19. 100 acres on the northwest portion of the property will be designated as habitat for the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly, an endangered species.

Estero Ranch joins the Jenner Headlands and Kashia Richardson, as significant and spectacular coastal acquisitions which protect sensitive habitat and offer the public an opportunity to experience some of the most extraordinary coastal land in the world. 

Roseland’s new library branch

On November 3rd, the doors opened at the Roseland Village Public Library. This library branch is a long realized dream for the Roseland community. The branch is located within walking distance of 4 Roseland elementary, middle, and high schools. The new library offers the community computer access, free Wi-Fi (courtesy of the Community Development Commission), and a collection of books and resources available in Spanish and English language versions. The temporary branch also offers bilingual staff members to help community members. 

A successful fundraising campaign by the Sonoma County Library Foundation provided a permanent collection of resources which will be Roseland specific. The Foundation also raised funds to pay for equipment, shelving, and other needs. A total of $190,000 was raised from the community to support the opening of this much needed branch. This is the beginning of having a permanent home for literacy in Roseland – a very big deal in an area with the highest concentration of young children living in poverty. Offering resources that working families often cannot afford will enhance educational attainment for these families.

In the future, the Library envisions offering art programs for kids, workforce training programs, and English as a Second language classes.

A grand opening/ribbon cutting was held on November 14th, featuring dozens of families signing up for limited edition Snoopy library cards. There was a fiesta atmosphere with food and drink, speakers, and entertainment by Ballet Folklorico’s young dancers along with music by a local mariachi trio. 

This was the third major event for the community held at the new Roseland Village community center next to the Dollar Tree store. The large community space has been economically refurbished with vibrant colors and accessible features. The indoor area is huge, and will be home to dance classes, exercise classes, non-profit services and community meetings in addition to the new Boys and Girls Club – which opened in October.

Currently, there are 3 development proposals being vetted by community members and the Community Development Commission. Several public meetings have already been held, giving the proposers plenty of public feedback in order to modify their proposals. Given the complex nature of the project, it is expected that development will begin in the next 3 to 5 years, so the Community Development Commission – owner of the property – decided to retain the Dollar Tree building and use a portion for a temporary community space. Other projects that will be coming to the site soon are a small shaded seating area, community “parkette” at the site of the old gas station and an exercise area and children’s playground adjacent to the Rodota trail which runs along the back of the property.

Thanks go out to the Sonoma County Library Commission and Director Brett Lear along with the Library Foundation Board for their investment in the future of our Roseland community.