June 25, 2017
link to facebook link to twitter

RP experiences robust growth in ‘64

By: Irene Hilsendager
March 10, 2017
Did you know?

Are there many families who move in, stay two or three months and then move out?

Certainly there are some, Fredericks says, who do just that. They also will do this in new areas in Petaluma, Santa Rosa and most other places where development is rapid. Stability comes later.

There are houses available (as there are elsewhere) to families who can put up about $100. But the usual sales are VA financed with about $500 down and FHA $800.

Whatever is happening in Rohnert Park, it is happening fast. 

Some highlights in the city are a sewer plant west of the highway near Wilfred Crossing went into operation in 1956. It can be expanded to serve an ultimate population of 30,000 to 40,000.

Water service supplied wells were set up the same year. These wells still supply the project though there is a connection with the Coyote Aqueduct. This is a standby source and a small amount is bought each year to flush the lines. 

Golis and his family were the first residents, moving in on Thanksgiving Day in 1957. An hour later the Terrence Moran family moved in and are still there. (This was recorded in February of 1964.)

Like the Fredericks, Mayor Vernon P. Smith and City Manager Peter M. Callinan show an awareness of what some would call growth problems and also exude a ready confidence that matters can be and will be handled as they arise.

One incorporation election failed, another was successful and Rohnert Park became a city Aug. 27, 1962.

The first parcel contained about 750 acres, 1,081 acres were annexed in 1963 and another annexation of 521 has just been completed and work is progressing to take in another 580 acres.

Present population is 3,675. Rohnert Park is the fourth-largest city in the county and gained 18 percent in one year. In December there were 921 houses with water and sewer service; of those, 110 were unoccupied.

The north end is home to a number of industries and businesses, including Cal-Wood Products, Berglund Tractor Company, which has a sales office and plans to move its main facilities here from Napa; Wright and Oretsky Contracting Company, Rohnert Park Printing Company, Foreign Auto Sales, A.B. Dick, business machines; Cotati Cabinet Shop which was recently moved from Cotati and Farmer Brothers Coffee Company.

Also Don Eckmann Concrete Products, Stjern-Johnston Cabinets and Continental Surplus.

Sissa’s Market is the nucleus of a large and growing shopping center.

And perhaps the largest single facility in Rohnert Park is Sonoma State College, located in temporary facilities built by the developers on a “crash program” to fill a sudden need when state authorities made the decision to build the permanent campus east of Rohnert Park on Petaluma Hill Rd. This area likely will be annexed to Rohnert Park in a few years.

Here again a scoffer may say the college will pay no taxes to Rohnert Park.

This is basically true but Callinan also points out that such institutions receiving services from cities can contract for them paying a fair share.

New areas, in essence, pay various costs of development. For instance, a cost-sharing contract was arranged for a sewer trunk costing about $250,000 and to extend in the direction of the college site.

Rohnert Park used to be part of the Cotati Fire Protection District, but as the new city grew this threw things out of balance.

With the district officials showing “fine cooperation” in the view of the city manager, Rohnert Park set up its own fire department-volunteers so far and withdrew from the district. Robert Ryan is fire chief with about 15 members not counting city employees who also pitch in including Fredericks. The public safety building is actually the nucleus of a civic center, which has two truck bays used by the fire department.

In one is a new pumper providing 750 gallons per minute. In the other is an older engine, which has been leased and probably will be kept for duty in the industrial section to the north and manned by volunteers from the nearby plants. On order is a new pumper to put out 1,000 gallons per minute. The building has a third bay, now set apart by a temporary wall, which contains desks and chairs and it’s the Council Chambers for the present. (To be continued next week.)


Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.