The Rohnert Park Parks and Recreation Commission met Monday evening to give the “OK” for the final park development plan for one of Station Avenue’s planned parks, a triangular shaped park with a kid friendly zone, a redwood preservation area and a small and large dog park for residents. With a desire for high quality park amenities, not all commissioners agreed that a proposed $700,000 budget would be adequate; however, in the end four of the commissioners present agreed to recommend the park’s final plan to city council.
Before Laulima landed the former 28-acre State Farm site, SunCal had planned various small parks in and around pockets of the downtown design centered around the SMART train station.
When Laulima, a San Francisco based mixed-use developer, purchased the large property, parks and recreation commissioners and city staff voiced that they still wanted to include parks in the company’s plans for Station Avenue (formerly known as Rohnert Station — Laulima’s original given name for the future downtown site) since Rohnert Park is known for having family friendly parks in each neighborhood.
Following a downtown community charrette last fall, where residents had a chance to voice what they would like to see in a downtown, it was clear the community had a desire for parks, green spaces, dog parks and communal gathering spaces incorporated into the more urban style downtown plan.
Laulima followed suit on the desires of commissioners and residents and came up with 1.1 acres of proposed, dedicated park land. One piece of the 1.1 proposed park land is a triangular shaped park along with a smaller rectangular shaped park adjacent to Enterprise Drive.
In response to former commissioner comments on the proposed park, “The children’s play structure and dog park were increased in size, a fence will separate the small dog park and the large dog park and the gathering area park land was moved over to the adjacent park land,” said Zach Tusinger, City Planner II for the City of Rohnert Park.
For the dog park amenities, Laulima developers, Jes Slavik and David Bouquillon and builder planners have a variety of amenities in mind, such as doggie drinking fountains, playing tunnels, hoops and ramps. The children’s area would comprise of fun and interactive playscapes, slides and fall materials. The park would also have a stylish retaining wall in order to contain the area’s redwood trees.
Yet, these amenities also come with a cost and Commissioner Chris Borr said he was concerned the $700,000 budget and in lieu fee of around $881,325 for maintenance of other parks and projects, may not be enough.
“I think we are all very impressed with the concept and the plan, it really does provide an anchored downtown feel to the community… but I am somewhat concerned because of the amenities that are outlined here, $700,000 sounds like a lot of money, but I know that can go very quickly, especially around play structures,” Borr explained. “So what I am looking for is some level of comfort or guarantee that the amenities we are talking about tonight are covered.”
To address those concerns, Slavik said they would like to come back to the commission with more detailed plans of what “they would be building with that budget number” and would work with staff to determine what sort of amenities would be implemented.
However, Borr still expressed concerns as in the current market building supply costs can change on a dime.
After some tense back and forth regarding the budget, Mary Grace Pawson, director of developmental services for the city, said city staff reviewed and validated the budget the proposed budget.
“To some extent staff has validated the estimated budget for improvements. We get what’s called a bond estimate with the developer and at the end of the project we true it up against the real cost. So the $700,000 estimate comes from the real costs we saw at Twin Creeks Park, which has a children’s play structure, fall structures, a very nice covered picnic area, a full enclosed restroom and concession area and a picnic area and a developed softball field — high quality amenities and that is the budget range we are working in,” Pawson elaborated.
Pawson also mentioned that this budget seems fitting since the proposed park is smaller and doesn’t have any restroom facilities planned.
Other concerns with the park included the tinier size of the small dog park, which was brought up by Commissioner Chair, Bonnie Black.
Developers said they would plan to make the small dog portion of the dog park larger.
Black mentioned they are excited for the plans and said of the overall park plans, “Everyone I think is much happier with these plans.”