Feb 1, 2019
by Jennifer Butler
Hello Dear Neighbors. So exciting to see some early buds on plants and the first Narcissus have broken ground. Yes! I feel spring coming. I have been enjoying the rain and early bedtime but can’t wait to feel the warmth and strength of the sun.
My goal writing this article is to cover what is going on in Graton and what effects the residents of this precious village. I can only report on what I know about. I see this as OUR column. If you have an opinion, concern, event, complaint or praise, I want to hear it. Please don’t assume that I know about it. While I do share my opinions, I welcome hearing yours too even it opposes mine. Please E-mail anytime. I welcome your correspondence.
Lots! George and Lisa Milo have been very hard at work restoring the old Fire Station building. Originally built in 1950 and 1965 much of the buildings shell has succumbed to rot and must be replaced. It is a huge undertaking with the additional challenge of maintaining the building’s historical architecture and history. Thankfully, all this hard work and investment has done nothing to discourage or diminish their vision for a beautiful space that families can enjoy. They have been working with local builder Kaleb White of Forestville to create what they hope to be a coffee shop and bakery which would support the cottage food law, allowing local bakers to showcase their talents. With a clear focus on welcoming families and the cycling community, George and Lisa want to create a space where neighbors and cyclist can hang out, sit by the fire, play some dominos, enjoy local culinary creations and watch their children play on the outdoor patio. They dream of a family friendly business that serves old fashioned sodas, maybe a kombucha bar and some award-winning beer from his son’s recently opened brewery in Santa Rosa called the 3 Disciples.
George and Lisa bought the building six years ago and began to phase into retiring their mailing and printing business of 34 years. Having just celebrated their 40 year wedding anniversary, George tells me how they have known each other since they were 15 and 17 years old. “All this time she has been my foundation” he tells me. Originally from Portugal, George moved to Sebastopol when he was 8 ½ and used to ride his bike to fish in the Atascadero Creek. It is his love for the area that has inspired him to plan on having a large mural painted on the trail side of the building depicting the water shed from Graton to Jenner as an educational piece that pays homage to this beautiful and delicate system. George and Lisa are also inspired by their bi-annual visits to George’s birth place Lisbon, Portugal where neighborhoods enjoy a thriving selection of padarias (bakeries) and village market places. George tells me that he wants to “add to the quality of life for the community” and duplicate this here in Graton.
The timeline for this project is in 2019 to complete the construction rehab on the building’s shell. 2020 for the infrastructure including water, sewage, road, sidewalk, adding two ADA compliant restrooms and a commercial kitchen, then in 2021 focus on the tenant improvements and leasing. They want the building to be in good working order so that they can be “good landlords and our tenants can focus on their business and passion not maintenance issues”. George tells me that things may change a little here and there, but he is a lot less naïve then when he first bought the building 6 years ago. He says designing a “beautiful building with lots of light and the proper infrastructure is the most important”. But also important to George is his dream to “grow older and enjoy playing an outdoor game of dominoes with his 6 grandchildren while watching families enjoying a break from everyday task in a welcoming community space”. If you would like to see a concept drawing of the space, there is one posted on the outside bulletin board at the post office or you can stop by and see George.
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