History
December 11, 2018
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Rohnert Park sign celebrates 51st birthday-2011

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 23, 2018

Just a few comments to put the history of the Rohnert Park Sign in perspective.

What was Rohnert Park like when the sign was erected in 1961?

Rohnert Park, co-founded by Paul Golis and Maurice Frederick, and the first master-planned community in California was seven years old. Rohnert Park was governed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The utilities, water and sewer, were administered by the Community Services District set up by original developers of Rohnert Park and administered by five district directors elected by Rohnert Park residents. The District basically had two employees: a secretary who also was in charge of billing and collecting water fees, and Bill Wiggins, District Maintenance Man, who managed the office and kept the water system, the sewer plant, Alicia Park and Swimming Pool and all public works operating most efficiently.

There were several development firms that virtually controlled all of the area, among them Rohnert Park Commercial Development Company and Rohnert Park Industrial Development Company. These two companies included the Rohnert Family, the Spivock family, Paul Golis and Maurice Fredericks. In addition, there were three other developing companies, Golis & Fredericks, Spivock and Spivock and Alicia Homes.

Alicia Homes at that time comprised the “working developers,” Paul Golis, Maurice Fredericks, Norman and Munroe Spivock, and to those who maintained offices here and worked here every day and often into the night.

1961 was a big year for Alicia Homes. In early Sept. they had completed the first stage of the town’s first neighborhood shopping center, then known as College View Shopping Center, located on Southwest Blvd., and welcomed the opening of the area’s first supermarket, Sissa’s. A few weeks later in temporary quarters built by Alicia Homes on College View Dr., Sonoma State College held their grand opening ceremony and welcomed their first 235 students with Paul Golis, the father of Rohnert Park, proudly looking on.

Rohnert Park was on the map and well on its way. To let the world know as part of their advertising program these developers determined they should have a sign erected along U.S. Highway 101. They had their advertising agency design a sign with their logo and had it built with their own funds. Purpose of the sign was to promote not only Rohnert Park but also Sonoma State College. That is why when built the sign and the Big “R” on the top with “Rohnert Park” and “Sonoma State College” below.

When Alicia Homes was dissolved, Golis and Fredericks operated the sign, until they convinced the RP Chamber of Commerce to take it over. As several years had passed and the city was now incorporated, the chamber convinced the city fathers that this should be a city duty.

By now the college was at their permanent site. Politics being politics there were a few members of the Rohnert Park City Council who were not happy with the college. The city council decided they did not want “Sonoma State College” on their sign so they held a contest to replace the words “Sonoma State College” with a slogan for the city. SURPRISE, SURPRISE, LO AND BEHOLD—the winner was a councilman’s wife who entered the winning entry “the friendly city.”

In its 51 years the sign has gone through several owners and many stages but the most recent renovation spearheaded by David Armstrong aided by the generous volunteer members of Rohnert Park’s Public Works Department, joined by community service organizations and local businesses, has ignited a sense of community pride which is certain to grow in ways we cannot possible imagine as we stand here today. May this sign again shine its light as a beacon of inspiration for community involvement and friendliness for all! (Written by Betty Fredericks)

This project to save the Rohnert Park friendly city sign would not have been possible without the help from the following:

Rohnert Park Department of Public Works

John McArthur

Tom Kelley and Staff

Maurice & Betty Fredericks

in memory of Paul Golis

Wine Country signs

Timmins Painting

Reyff Electric

Liberty Valley Doors

Rotary Club of Rohnert Park/Cotati

Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati

Active 20/30 Club of the NB

Codding Enterprises

Rohnert Park chamber of Commerce

Wal-Mart Stores

Wal-Mart Stores

North Bay Realtors

David Armstrong

Ralph Cota & Holly Neal

Kelly-Moore Paints

Miller Powder Coating

John & Irene Borba

Hertz

DK Landscaping

Grainger

Innovative Screen Printing

Rohnert Park Girls Softball League

Cal Ripken Baseball

RPPOA

50th Celebration Committee

Rohnert Park Soccer League

Mike Vieth

Mike Merriman

And many thank you to Tim Denisi, Kaaron Carver and Irene Hilsendager for taking pictures daily as the work was progressing on the sign.

Thanks to all! JOBS WELL DONE!