The history of The Springs in one of change and reinvention. Each of the four hamlets that encompass this special area has a fascinating history of its own and collectively, the region has faced great challenges, from economic to natural to social.
For hundreds of years, The Springs was a healing place for Native Americans before it became the “playground” of the Valley in the late 19th century up until The Great Depression. It is the place where sports players trained, bootleggers thrived, families retreated, and the Navy sent their people to rest and recuperate. For the next 30 years, it was largely a place where working and middle class families could buy or rent homes. In the 1980s forward, it became a safe haven for new residents to find community. The myriad of identities led to an organic development that created an eclectic, if somewhat neglected, development path. Until recently, the Hwy 12 corridor was lined with dirt paths and far too many blighted properties. Change, once again, is here.
For the past couple of years, the Springs has been undergoing yet another reinvention. As Supervisor, I have been diligent in advocating to preserve what makes this diverse and interesting place special, while encouraging economic and public investment in businesses, workforce and affordable housing, and the completion of the long awaited Highway 12 project. As I drive along the corridor and see people on sidewalks, fresh paving, bike lanes marked, and lighting erected, I am reminded of the many people who made this moment happen. This, my friends, was a group effort of epic proportions. And it is not over. We are not done. We are beginning again and the future of the Springs is one we will decide together. So, let’s celebrate where we are today and think about where we want to go tomorrow.
On Saturday, September 10, I invite you to the first ever The Springs Festival. Bring your family and friends to mark the completion of improvements on Highway 12, the small businesses investing in the community, the nonprofit organizations who provide services and support, and the residents who continue to believe in this special place.
The day will kick off with a ribbon cutting at noon at Boyes Plaza Center, followed by a walk on the newly installed Highway 12 sidewalks through Flowery School Field, and will finish with a community-wide celebration at Larson Park from 1 to 5 p.m. Have you ever biked or walked the Springs? Now is the time to experience it on foot or bike! Access to Larson Park is easy through the backfield of Flowery or along DeChene, but please do not fill the neighborhood with vehicles (parking is very limited). We have Bike Valet parking and loads of fun activities awaiting you, from a Dunk Tank (with many well-known eager “Dunkees”) to watermelon eating contests to sack races to food vendors and much, much more.
I chose Larson Park for this celebration because it is an underused gem in the center of the community. Both Larson Park and Maxwell Park are undergoing Master Plan Updates. Both have tremendous potential and yet, many people who reside here have never been to either park, or it has been years since last they swam in the creek, played on the field, or picnicked on the green. I know the issues with both parks.
Maxwell Park has acres of incredibly beautiful back country lined by Sonoma Creek, rocky beaches and, yes, too many people using it for refuge engaging in negative behaviors.
Larson Park was once a place where families spent weekends, learning to swim and playing ball. Unfortunately, at some point it too became an island of nefarious activities, but these are diminishing each year as more and more people rediscover the charms of this park. While we still experience some issues, the more important factors are the progress: the community garden is in full bloom, the creeks still provide places for families to look for tadpoles and rockhop, the fields and courts are busy on weekends with soccer games and families.
For both Larson and Maxwell, the key factor in reclaiming the parks is you. You. The county sends our homeless outreach team out weekly and the sheriff’s department is present often in both parks. But it is not enough. We need your eyes on the parks. We need you to reclaim these parks as your own and use them every day. See something that needs attention? Report it! “SoCo Report It” is a smartphone application that allows you to report issues in real time and follow them to resolution.
Hosting this event at Larson Park is a wish thrown to the wind: please consider the difference we can make together in recreating this Springs jewel as a place for future events, movie nights, and markets. The limit is imagination; the possibilities are vast. Positive change requires all of us.
Please join me on September 10 to mark a new chapter in the Springs. It’s time to dance.