|Public hears about NW Specific Plan
Water, traffic concerns dominant topics in initial public meeting; another public hearing scheduled for October
A few more details about the proposed Northwest Specific Plan were aired Monday night in Rohnert Park City Hall when a two-hour public meeting was held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This was the first public meeting held, and another one is scheduled for October.
We say “few more details,” for major points were already covered with a map and story on page one of last week’s The Community Voice. This time, Bruce Brubaker, consultant with Planning Center DC&E, was on hand with a PowerPoint show and to answer questions. Attendance was sparse, with about 15 people, mostly from within the NWSP borders, asking questions.
Main concerns were water and traffic. City Engineer Darren Jenkins reminded the audience of the 2005 New Year’s Eve rainstorm when the whole area was turned into one huge lake. Brubaker said the casino site on the south side of Wilfred Avenue (soon to be labeled Golf Course Drive West) will be getting additional topsoil to bring the elevation of the casino itself slightly higher than it is planned for now.
The site is getting topsoil from further south in the site, which runs down to Business Park Drive. The bottom portion will be holding ponds and a drainage basin to cope with excess rainfall. Plans are to have any excess flow into the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The NWSP is divided into sections with Wilfred Avenue, the dividing line. The northern portion up to Millbrae Ave. is the larger section of the 90 acres.
Also discussed was the Wilfred-Dowdell flood channel crossing county land west of Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park. It’s mostly in county territory and controlled by the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA). Right now it’s clogged with ludwigia plants. It was cleaned a year or two earlier but the invasive plants have made a comeback.
A lot of concern was heard about casino traffic in the area. Millbrae Ave., Wilfred Ave. and Business Park Drive are the main east-west routes with Dowdell and Labath Ave. plus Redwood Drive the main north-south arterials. Most of the audience were in favor of improving the east-west roads all the way to Stony Point Road. The Graton Tribe has already promised to share expenses with RP to improve Wilfred Ave.
All roads mentioned will have curbs, gutters sealed, sidewalks and bike paths. Redwood Drive already has these amenities.
The NWSP is in RP’s Sphere of Influence, a line drawn on a map indicating the city has plans to annex portions of it in future years.
Most of the audience was in favor of upgrading the area with upscale homes, parks and anchor stores such as Nordstrom’s to attract shoppers.
Dennis Hale, a B Section resident of Rohnert Park, proposed a “California Music Experience” near the casino, based on the popular tourist music center in Branson, Missouri, It would include theaters, convention sites, conference halls and a museum “celebrating the Bay Area’s contributions to music history.”
He acknowledged the presence of Spreckels Performing Arts Center and Green Music Center at SSU, “but none of them are near a casino.” Brubaker noted down his plan on his flip chart. Hale also manages a non-profit called Vacant Store Front Theater Company working to put small theater companies in vacant office buildings.
Brubaker also mentioned mitigation efforts to save the imperiled tiger salamander and added, “The city’s General Plan has both residential and commercial development for this specific plan. But no firm details have been approved.” They may come up at the next meeting in October.