The Rohnert Park City Council directed its staff Tuesday to reach out to the residents of the G Section over the potential move of the city’s Corporation Yard (Corp Yard) to the area in order to make room for the new Station Avenue Development.
It was never a question of whether to move the Corp Yard, but rather to where and when. The terms of the Station Ave. Development Plan slate the land under the current Corp Yard office for parking, and with construction on the new downtown neighborhood imminent, the time has come, as they say, to pull the trigger.
“The horse has bolted out of the stable door. The word is on the street as of now. This is more than a rough sketch—there’s an architect drawing there of what’s proposed for that site,” Council-member Jake Mackenzie said.
There were several potential sites for the new Corp Yard office which included a property on Hunter Dr., a vacant lot near the Spreckels Performing Arts Center and a former real estate office on State Farm. The council discussed those options but did not rule on them.
The current front runner of the potential sites for the new Corp Yard is the former Gold Ridge Elementary School located at 1455 Golf Course Dr. Gold Ridge Elementary closed down back in 2008. At its height, the school enrolled 340 children with a 40 member faculty. It has since been, more or less, abandoned and subject to vandalism, vagrancy and all the ravages of time.
Everything told the cost to renovate the Gold Ridge site and move the Corp Yard will run upwards of $5.4 million. The money for that will come from the city’s general fund, which the city manager, Darrin Jenkins, claims they’ve already set aside. That price tag does not factor in the potential income from selling the current Corp Yard site.
The only tenant at the 6.04- acre property is the local preschool provider, Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County, which leases a couple of Gold Ridge’s old portables from the city. That leaves the administrative complex completely free, which, as select members of the council see it, makes the site a promising location.
“My first reaction when I started to read was, ‘Oh, not in Gold Ridge. That doesn’t work,” Council-member Pam Stafford said. “But the more I read the analysis—I think the points you make are really well taken. The Corp Yard really is a cohesive unit that works well together. I think it’s a really important thing to keep the group together, to keep that cohesion.”
The issue is that the neighborhood around Gold Ridge is residential—entirely residential, actually. Slapping a light industrial building like the Corp Yard in the middle of a family neighborhood can change its character, not to mention issues with traffic, noise and all the other little joys a light industrial building can bring.
For Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan those issues make Gold Ridge a nonstarter. He voiced fervent disagreement over the potential site.
“I think we need to sit down and negotiate with Laulima before we even begin to look. If we don’t get our price and they don’t make it worth our while then why are we moving?” Callinan said. “I’m not at all interested in putting it at Gold Ridge. I think it’s a terrible location. I agree it’s an unused bit of property, but that doesn’t mean we need to have a fire sale and move our public works out there.”
Council opinion closed out divided. The city opted to reach out to the residents of G Section for feedback. Any resident of Rohnert Park is encouraged to contact the city to share their opinion on the proposed sites.