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September 17, 2021
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Sebastopol takes first step in Calder Creek naturalization

By: Albert Gregory
August 27, 2021

The Sebastopol planning commission met Tuesday night over Zoom to kick off their plan for the naturalization of Calder Creek as part of the Ives Park Master Plan.

Ann Riley, the executive director of the nonprofit Waterway Restoration Institute, and Jessica Hall, a Switzer Foundation fellow, led a presentation that illustrated how other small communities had restored degraded urban creeks. This presentation served as a jumping-off point and food for thought for ways the city of Sebastopol could restore Calder Creek.

“I think it helps communities to try to envision what the creek could be if they see what other communities have done, particularly small towns and towns with very limited budgets,” Riley said.

In March 2013, Sebastopol adopted the Ives Park Master Plan, a general guide and living document meant to serve as a blueprint for future park updates and provided a practical, schematic plan for park renovations.

Some of the plans for the renovation included adding a new restroom and play area to the park as well as improving entrance accessibility to the park and more. The master plan also included restoration to both North and South Calder Creek.

The Sebastopol City Council approved funding for the primary steps of the restoration effort, which included a hydrology study and additional planning to redesign the channel.

The city council reached out to Riley and WRI to provide design scenarios to the creek that runs through Ives Park.

One example presented at the planning commission meeting was the Santa Rosa Creek near Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. The City of Santa Rosa took out a flood control made of concrete and naturally restored the creek while also providing public access. Riley presented other restoration projects from San Luis Obispo to Boulder, Colo., all the way to San Antonio, Texas.  

“The product we hope that will come out of this after interacting with the community is a formerly designed, drafted, scaled, plan viewed and cross-section with some alternatives that would show different scenarios for what we could do with Calder Creek,” Riley said.

The next step in the design process for the restoration will be held in September, where the planning commission will examine stream project successes and failures. In addition, the commission hopes to look at lessons from other projects to ensure that the Calder Creek restoration runs smoothly.

“We want to use that first meeting as a way to get feedback from people on ‘What do you want to see for the creek? How do you hope the creek will be used? What are your hopes for it being a community amenity?’And then we hope to have more targeted meetings with the public,” Riley said.  

At the September meeting, the commission will look at alternative design scenarios submitted through public input. The city's goal is to make the creek “alive and beautiful again.”

“Our design work will be starting in September and will be continuing through the end of the year and from that point on Sebastopol will have these concept plans you can package into grants applications,” Hall said. “Realistically we are looking at a time frame of four to five years to break ground.”