Update: Creekside Park “pipe dream” to become a reality
Originally published here on July 4, 2012, the hope that the old Monte Rio school site would morph into a skate park, trail, community garden and cafe has become a reality with the Board of Supervisors approval on February 5 of a $389K grant, and construction on the 3.8 acre site fronting Dutch Bill Creek, will begin in the next few weeks.
Monte Rio Park and Rec’s Creekside Park project, one of the last items to be funded by the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee, appears to have a good chance of coming to fruition.
After the week-long Valentine’s Day flood of 1986, Monte Rio’s elementary school could no longer serve as a school, and except for a short stint as Sweetwater Springs Water Company’s administration offices and a day-care headed by Monte Rio’s Jynx Lopez, the Bohemian Highway campus was virtually abandoned.
But now that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has approved an innovative septic system, the $1.4 million Creekside Park Project will apparently be able to move forward.
Recognizing that the unused school and property could become what Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo has described as “a public benefit, re-utilizing a derelict public building and site,” the Board approved a new septic system. Work could begin within the next few months.
The Board does not grant waivers to individual projects, but recognizing the importance of the Creekside Park Project and the boost its development would give Monte Rio and the lower River’s inhabitants, the Board made an unexpected exception.
According to information released by Supervisor Carrillo’s office on February 5 the project will include:
• A café opening onto Main Street to be operated by a Recreation and Park District-managed concessionaire;
• A community farm and orchard where food will be grown and sold locally, as well as in the on-site café; the Sonoma County Garden Network is working with project planners to develop demonstration programs for growing food on public property;
• A 1/3-mile loop trail around the property with interpretive signage about site improvements as well as efforts to restore Schoolhouse Creek and Dutch Bill Creek, which are adjacent to the property, for Coho and Chinook salmon and Steelhead trout. Project planners are in discussion with the Sonoma County Water Agency about creek restoration plans and other aspects of the project.
• A skate park;
• An outdoor patio area, new parking and public restrooms;
Wormhoudt Inc., based in Santa Cruz, has been building skate and bike parks since 1964 in Israel and Poland as well as towns throughout the U.S. including the 15,000 sq. ft. park in Sebastopol. The skatepark earmarked for Monte Rio will be 10,000 sq. ft. and according to Wormhoudt, should take 90 days to complete once the site is ready for construction and the funds are in place.
Susan Upchurch who works with Fifth District Supervisor Carrillo, stated the ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the old Monte Rio school on Bohemian Highway at 11 a.m. on Thursday, February 14 and the ground breaking ceremony will be held on Monday, February 18. Mr. Carrillo plans on attending the ribbon cutting.
Upchurch also quoted Mr. Carrillo as having said, “This beautiful, interactive and educational project is the culmination of several years of advocacy by community residents to remove blight while providing River area children, residents, and visitors with a unique opportunity to enjoy the creeks and open space in the heart of Monte Rio. This is a great example of leveraging public dollars with private partnerships to bring a wonderful community asset forward using all available funding sources.”