February 22, 2019
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RP sign restoration-2012

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 30, 2018

David Armstrong knows what it’s like to persevere. As chair of the Rohnert Park Sign Restoration committee, he experienced many stalls in fund-raising. The lagging economy took its toll on the plans, and folks moved in different directions regarding how to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rohnert Park’s incorporation.

But, having his chiropractic office next door to the law offices of Maurice Fredericks, his vision was constantly buoyed by fond historic memories of the town shared by Betty and her husband. Through it all, Dave wanted to honor this founding couple who gave so much to Rohnert Park.

It began a little over a year ago when Dave was on the Planning Commission with Marilyn Ponton, who had restored an original Las Vegas sign. With her expertise and research on the sign’s history, he felt that the project was worthy enough to fundraise. He found allies in City Public Works employees John McCarthy and Tom Kelly, who were passionate about the insignia, but found the necessary $25,000, to be elusive.

When it looked as if the goal was unattainable, they met with Armstrong to see about simply cleaning and painting the edifice to make it presentable for the 50th celebration. Each time they thought about it, the vision of an enhanced symbol kept growing. McCarthy and Kelly appealed to various building contractors, including Reyff Electric, who were willing to donate the work if the needed materials funds were committed. Betty and Maurice provided seed money, and added to it when they discovered this growing ember of pride unfolding.

It all came together this month, when the Rohnert Park Rotary had a special Board meeting under the direction of Wayne Sutton. Within half an hour, they committed over $2,000, a match to previous funds promised by the 20/30 Club. Sign-A-Rama has agreed to manufacture eight Lexan panels, which will be installed by the City, who will also remove and replace old fluorescent lamps with LED ones. Reyff Electrical has donated the rewiring labor and will work alongside Public Works on LED panels. Timmin’s Painting has volunteered to prep and paint the marker.

To enhance the space around the sign, small trees were removed, and a “Gateway” sign will be installed, surrounded by granite blocks and landscaping. Panels will honor various service groups who have contributed to the restoration, and there will be spaces for SSU and the 50th committee logos for the first year in honor of their golden celebrations. Liberty Valley Doors will provide the wood for this part of the project.

The entire Commerce Blvd. square will be a beautiful tribute to the greatest iconic representation of the city of Rohnert Park. Not only does it mark our boundary to freeway drivers, but more than that it reminds everyone of the evolution of Rohnert Park from seed farm to city. And most importantly, it is a testament to the perseverance by so many who envisioned, built, and lived in this city, and loved it enough to preserve its history for posterity.