August 17, 2017
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Two self-sustaining communities in one-1961

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 2, 2017
Master-planned Rohnert Park with a population expected to swell from 2,000 to 30,000 in ten years.

A rundown of the factors at work in this burgeoning new community tends to bear this out. Let’s discuss traffic patterns: Rohnert Park will be divided into two self-sustaining communities with separate shopping facilities, parks, schools, churches and professional centers. A giant regional shopping center of nearly 100 acres and an industrial tract of 300 acres will divide the two residential areas, thereby halving the amount of traffic on residential streets.

In addition, each residential area will have two access roads to U.S. 101 freeway, plus the use of four other access roads which serve the regional shopping center and main industrial tract. Other “back-way” access roads will lead to the old Santa Rosa-San Francisco highway east of the city and Highway 101. Further diversions are into the neighborhoods, the basic planning unit, with an elementary school site and park in the center of each and non-access arterial roads surrounding the neighborhoods, to further remove traffic from residential areas.

Recreation: Over a dozen parks are planned within the city and three or four of them will be set aside for adults only. This latter arrangement is in recognition of the growing number of senior citizens who are retiring to the area to take advantage of the warm, sunny climate. A swimming pool is already in operation in the first park area and more are planned. Many of the parks will be oversized and constructed beside the ten schools to be built to allow for joint school use.

Fifty-acre lake, golf course: A 50-acre lake to be named Lake Celeste will be built beside the 18-hole championship golf course. The lake will be restricted to small sailboats and rowboats only; no power boats of any type will be permitted. the golf course will feature a spectacular “19th-hole” clubhouse overlooking the lake frontage property. Membership in the club will be offered to Rohnert Park residents on a first priority basis.

School, 4-year college: The ten primary and secondary schools are being located according to population density statistics to avoid an uneven load for any single school. The first elementary school will be constructed this summer and it will feature a “spokes-of-a-wheel” design with movable interior walls. the cost will be less than $15 per square foot.  The site for the four-year Sonoma State College borders on the southern end of Rohnert Park in rolling foothills. Dr. Ambrose Nichols was recently appointed to head up the college staff and classes will be held in a temporary location this year until construction is completed.

Mobile Home Park: A 143-unit mobile home park has been approved by the Planning Commission as an integral part of a residential neighborhood. This breakthrough in official thinking (Mobile home parks are usually zoned for non-residential areas) was based on 10 percent formula set forth by various trailer associations who claim that 10 percent of the population live in or will live in mobile homes. The park will have its own swimming pool plus all facilities normally found in the most modern of mobile home communities. Schools and shopping areas will be within walking distance of the park.

Garden apartments: A pilot project of over 400 united in garden court apartments is planned around the Park Plaza neighborhood shopping center which is now under construction. Two recreational areas and a swimming pool are included in the project. Rentals are pegged from $80 per month for a bachelor apartment to $120 per month for a three-bedroom unit. If successful, the garden court idea will be expanded into the other two projected neighborhood shopping centers.

Shopping facilities: About 100 acres have been set aside for a regional shopping center. Population maps show that Rohnert Park is dead center in a 25- mile population radius of over 225,000 residents. Three neighborhood shopping center are planned; the first one, Park Plaza, is under construction now and will include Sissa’s Supermarket (18,000 square feet), drug store, barber shop, service station, coffee shop, dry cleaners and hardware store. Other facilities will be a bowling alley, tavern, branch bank and children’s clothing store when negotiations are completed.

Industrial tracts: Two industrial areas have been designated; on of 300 acres for light manufacturing, the other of 80 acres for heavier industry. Present tenants include California Wood Products; Wright and Oretsky, Contractors; Glover Construction; Eckmann Concrete Tile products; altogether about 250 employees. The next tenant in the 300-acre tract will be Berglund Tractor Company, employing about 100 workers. Both industrial areas are served by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad and numerous trucking firms. an airport with air-freight facilities is included in the over- all master plan for Rohnert Park. 

Water, sewage: Water is supplied from Rohnert Park’s own giant well system at the flat rate of $3 per month for each resident. Coyote Dam water is available on a stand by basis to guarantee adequate supplies, should industrial needs be exceptionally heavy. the community has a new sewage treatment plant with facilities to handle any projected population increase, even in excess of 30,000 residents. A network of truck lines serves the area. A system of canals and underground carry-off pipes has eliminated the surface drainage problem and roads within the community are free of standing water during even the most severe rainstorms.