The goal to purchase the Forestville downtown property for a square and park was reached on Friday, November 15, 2013.
You can read more about the journey on the Park History page.
The project has been several years in the design phase. The original design of the town square and park area is being spearheaded by the Town Square Planning Group (TSPG), a design committee consisting of representatives from our community and from the private investors. This group includes 3 volunteer architects.
TSPG originated as a result of public discussion at a Forestville Planning Association board meeting on Dec. 17, 2013. At this meeting, it became clear a design team was needed for the downtown park land now that the land has been acquired.
The TSPG has been meeting frequently in order to prepare for Town Meetings. It remains in close communication with the Park District, the Open Space District, Forestry and other consultants, and Supervisor Carillo about development possibilities.
The Open Space District requires that the FPA create a plan within 6 months (May 2014) of acquiring the property. The first Town Meeting was on Feb. 9, 2014.
The Town Meetings are set up to allow the residents of Forestville give their input into the park and square design.
The Feb. 9, 2014 park design Town Meeting asked the attendees three questions: What activities would you want to happen here? What physical characteristics should be included? What are your biggest concerns/fears about this project?
The Town Meeting produced 84 suggestions on what activities, features and concerns/fears the group should most pay attention to as they come up with design schemes for the land.
TSPG consisted of:
- Jeff Blechel: Architect, lives in downtown Forestville, volunteered to head the design team.
- Ken Smith: FPA Board member, architect, lives in downtown Forestville.
- Catherine Bartolomei: Co-owner of the Farmhouse Inn, part of a group of investors (LLC) who had just purchased the four acres of land just west of the town square land. The LLC, naturally, wants the the town square project to succeed.
- Joe Bartolomei: Co-owner of the Farmhouse Inn, part of the LLC.
- Scott Lee: Architect for the Farmhouse Inn, part of the LLC.
- Dan Northern: Forestville’s former fire chief, lives in Forestville with deep roots to the town, very knowledgeable about the workings of the town.
- Brian Martens: Former FPA Board Member, lives in Forestville.
- Richard Naegle: Former FPA Board President, lived in Forestville, now in the East Bay.
In the intervening years, the resultant park concept has been shepherded through the County planning process. This has been an arduous and costly process and unfortunately was halted in July of 2018 when wetlands were discovered within the park building envelope which was specified by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which maintains a conservation easement on the property.
Consequently, the original concept is under revision to accommodate the associated wetlands regulations. The Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdictional authority over these wetlands and the new plan must conform to both their and Ag & Open Space requirements.
While initially disappointing, the FPA Board of Directors has taken this development as an opportunity to revisit and refine the original plan, and how it might realistically best serve Forestville as we go forward. To that end, we have devised a concept that stays out of the wetlands perimeter, requires no removal of oak trees as did the previous plan, and leaves the space much as a natural park instead of a more of a developed town square. This has the added benefit of being less costly and therefore more likely to actually be funded.
See the latest drawing (October 2018) for the park here: Development Concept