Rezoning, March Election Measures, Trail Upgrades + More
These posts first appear in the Sonoma County Gazette and then reprinted here on the FPA Blog.
by Vesta Copestakes
Saving El Molino High School
As I write this (Feb 24) there is no way of knowing whether Measures A & Bill will pass with a super-majority (66%) of voters, or fail. These two measures were put on a Special Election ballot because they are financial emergencies. Without additional funding one of three West County high school campuses will close, and because of student volume, it looks like closing El Molino in the fall of 2021 is the option the board is choosing.
If the measures pass, we bought time to find a better solution for all. Closing the El Moliino campus would have a devastating impact on students, families, and the economy of downtown Forestville, especially Carr’s Drive-In and our coffee shops!
West County students, parents and grandparents came out in force to protect and defend our high school campus. Forestvillians Kara Gilmore-Mendez, Jess Lee, and Stefanie Stornetta created Keep Our Lions Roaring Facebook page that grew to 1,438 members of support for El Molino. Domenica Sheets, Gilliam Hayes, Steve Griffith and a small army of volunteers canvassed door-to-door, held rallies in downtown Sebastopol and Guernevillle, and put up YES on Measure A & B signs throughout the impacted district.
We’re crossing our fingers that voters will see the value of supporting our high school campus, and hopefully expanding the curriculum with more Career Tech classes that offer more options, not less, for students to enter the workforce with skills obtained during their high school careers. There’s tremendous need and job opportunities waiting for trained workers.
(Editor’s Note: The views expressed above are the author’s. The FPA is not for or against ballot measures.)
Getting Ready for Summer Visitors
The February Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council (LRRMAC) focussed on getting ready for a busy summer season along the Russian River at their February meeting on Zoom. A recording of the meeting can be found at: Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’ Facebook Videos
With Covid numbers lessening as more people get vaccinated, people are anxious to get out to play, so summer could look even more intense than last year’s 80% increase in visitors to our home.
A new “Trouble with Trash” AdHoc committee will concentrate on how to mitigate the trash problem and clean up what people leave behind. Sonoma County’s Adopt-a-Road program is coming back and Regional Parks will be increasing both the number of trash cans as well as porta-potties at Steelhead, Sunset and Mom’s beaches this summer, AND they are hiring people to clean neighborhoods that suffer from beach visitors parking.
It also helps to know that they are looking for small bus companies for a shuttle system to take the pressure off parking lots and neighborhoods by having people park out of the area and get bussed in for their day of fun.
The potential for a Residential Parking Permit program is still in research mode. THANK YOU everyone who answered the survey. This would be a county-wide program so don’t expect any concrete results for a while.
Unsafe and Aggressive Driving
Have you seen the little white and black signs on Mirabel Road with the speed monitor? “W2F!,” “Way 2 FAST!,” and “Slow Down Sonoma County.” This is a public education and awareness campaign on roads that are considered “trouble spots.” “This education campaign seeks to raise awareness about impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving and the collisions and fatalities that can result,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Many years ago, back when Mike Reilly was our supervisor, our town tried to get the speed limit on Mirabel lowered from 45 to 35 since it’s such an important residential thoroughfare, and goes right past our Youth Park. Decades later, it just might happen. Can you imagine how many tragedies could have been avoided if we had reduced the speed limit back then?
Ready to Adopt a Road for Litter Pickup?
Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Adopt A Road (AAR) Program is looking for volunteers and sponsors. It’s very organized and involves some training and certainly high-vis clothing and then removal of what you pick up. Coordinating with Public Works can not only clean our roadsides but also gain you recognition for your efforts.
Yes, YOUR NAME gets to be on one of those signs people see as they drive. Contact Clyde Galantine of Public Works (707-565-7954, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), and just know that when you send an email or record your message on his phone, you will get a “closed for COVID” message. Not to worry, he will get back to you with what you need to get started….and THANK YOU!
Play Ball at Forestville Youth Park
Yes, spring and summer are looking more and more normal except now people wear masks when they get together to play! Not long after the park opened for day visitors, Opening Day for Little league sign-ups was intense! Little League isn’t lacking for willing players!
As you know, last year’s parade and BBQ had to be cancelled so the main fundraiser for the year simply didn’t happen! If you love and use the Youth Park, please consider a donation, family membership, and maybe even a paver with your name on it!
The Youth Park needs money in order to stay maintained for the pleasure of all. Family memberships are still just $25. Pay by check, mail to: P.O. Box 357, Forestville, CA 95436, OR pay Online @ https://forestvilleyouthpark.org/donate-youth-park/. If you want to leave a lasting legacy of your support, consider an engraved sidewalk paver for $125: https://forestvilleyouthpark.org/engraved-sidewalk-paver/
Regional Parks Downtown Park Boardwalk is Ready!
No more traversing rutted paths through marshy wetlands to get to the West County Trail! Regional Parks completed their boardwalk/bridge from our Downtown Oaks Park to the trail as it picks up by the Meadowlark neighborhood to begin its journey through Graton, Sebastopol, and all the way to Santa Rosa.
This new addition not only makes finding the trailhead easy, it brings people straight from the downtown parking lot to the trail.
THANK YOU Regional Parks for your stunning construction. People are loving how easy it is now to access the trail!
Supporting Local Businesses through COVID
As Rosa of La Rosa Taqueria and Market (6555 Front St) said as I picked up her made-for-our-town Forestville Bowl (chicken, rice, whole beans, broccoli & mushrooms topped with guacamole and sour cream), takeout orders from loyal customers have kept their business open throughout the pandemic…THANK YOU!
Twist Eatery (6536 Front St,) is now open again after being closed for two months…just in time for warmer weather. Jeff and Toni are happy to be back with Jeff’s specials as well as their regular menu we can count on to be excellent. Pre-order a picnic lunch to take to our downtown park or to the rIver!
We’re a tiny town so every business is owned by someone we know. Mark Olsen at Forestville Pharmacy keeps hoping he can get vaccines to help vaccinate Sonoma County. Keep asking…it could happen any time soon! As more and more people get vaccinated we allow ourselves to be excited about having a normal life again.
West County Health Centers is holding vaccination clinics in Guerneville and Sebastopol for West County residents. Every Wednesday evening they get their allotment for the week so open appointments…log on to: https://www.wchealth.org/news/covid-19-vaccine/ to schedule your shot! It’s easy, efficient, and close to home! I got my Pfizer #1 shot last week!