Meet Santa Rosa City Parks – Our Greenway Partner

As the City of Santa Rosa moves closer to acquiring the 47-acre Southeast Greenway, we will begin working closely with the Santa Rosa City Parks Department. Campaign Co-Chair Bob Gaiser and I met with Parks Deputy Director Jen Santos to learn about our city parks and how we might work together on planning and developing the Greenway. We were amazed at the size and scope of the Department’s work. Our Parks IQ has grown! Here are highlights from our interview.

How many city parks are there in Santa Rosa?

  • 12 Community Parks – large parks (about 20 acres) with parking and restrooms
  • 52 Neighborhood Parks – small parks typically under 5 acres
  • 4 Special Purpose Parks – examples include the Golf Course and Luther Burbank Homes and Gardens

Additionally, Santa Rosa has 13 Open Space Parks, 5 Public Plaza Parks and 6 Trail Parks. The Southeast Greenway will be unique, containing elements of many park types. More information on city parks is available on the City of Santa Rosa website.

What does City Parks do?

  • Park & Landscape Maintenance. This service unit maintains 1,035 acres of park land of all types as well as recreational and public building sites and 73 acres of roadway landscaping.
  • Parks Planning and Development. This unit provides acquisition and development of parks and recreational facilities, conducts park research, and prepares and manages grant applications. They also serve as liaison to special purpose parks such as Bayer Farm and the Golf Course.

Youths playing volleyball at Finely Center Santa Rosa Young girl on play structure outdoors

What is involved in Park Planning and Development?

The process typically involves these major steps:

  1. Prioritize projects – develop cost estimates for design and implementation.
  2. Raise necessary funding based on early-stage planning cost estimates.
  3. Develop Park Master Plan – hire consultant, engage the community, design master plan based on community input, gain approval of Master Plan by Board of Community Services and City Council, develop and conduct bidding process for Construction Plans.
  4. Award Construction Contract and manage to completion.
  5. Open Park to the community.

How are our parks funded?

Our parks are funded through Park Development Impact Fees and grants. New developments can dedicate land for parks or pay an in-lieu fee. The City typically applies for grants from the State and from the Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District.

How can community members be involved in our parks?

Community members can be involved in our parks through volunteering, attending public meetings related to parks, and participating when park approval or funding items go before appointed and elected officials.

As you can see, there will be many ways for all of us to contribute to the planning and development process for the Greenway. In coming months, the Greenway Campaign will explore how we and other Greenway Partners can help raise funds for planning and development of a Park Master Plan for the Greenway. Additionally, we will alert community members of opportunities to participate in community engagement and public meetings.

We wish to express appreciation to Jen Santos for generously sharing her time and knowledge of our parks. We look forward to working together to fund, plan, and develop an amazing Southeast Greenway!

Rincon Valley Park in Santa Rosa, CA

Linda Proulx is a volunteer and founding member of the Southeast Greenway Campaign.