School Board stadium funding was a ‘betrayal’

Posted on May 13, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Socorro Shiels, your article in the Sonoma Valley Sun, “Dude, Be Nice,” prompted me to write and wish you great success in promoting this idea over the next few years.  The SVUSD Board with its new members is the right place to start leading by example.

During a Fall 2017 SVUSD meeting, board member John Kelly told us the consultants for Measure E advised the board the measure would not pass if stadium information was included in advertising to Sonoma voters – therefore it was left out.  Board member Dan Gustafson said that stadium information was not included on the voters ballot “because there were only seventeen words left to describe it”.

That admission of misleading Sonoma’s voters, by omitting significant and highly impactful information, felt anything but “nice”.

A large number of Sonomans showed up at that meeting to register their protest to the surprise of a 2,500 seat stadium to be put in the middle of a town of 10,000, but were ignored – the board voted for the project to move forward.  Voting to direct almost $10 million in school funds to build a stadium 5 blocks from the lighted and newly refurbished Arnold football stadium and baseball fields did not seem prudent.

Since that vote, Sonomans like myself that are school volunteers, soccer coaches/parents, and those of us that line and help maintain fields commonly describe feeling misled and betrayed. Socorro, you and the new board members have a unique opportunity since replacing the men that have left the board.  We hope that you will take advantage of that change to rebuild some trust in Sonoma.  In today’s slang, become a “real one”.

According to the board consultants for Measure E, the majority of Sonomans would vote NO against the stadium if voting with full knowledge of stadium details.  At a minimum, the Environmental Impact Report for Sonoma Valley High School due next winter should contain real honest research data leading the board to an informed decision, not one full of omissions leading to an oversized stadium with hazardous turf that will dramatically forever alter the center of The City of Sonoma. There are better choices that give athletes robust new playing fields, are safe for our children and community, reduce maintenance costs, and help the school board regain some credibility.

So, best of luck in your campaign and…. “Dude, Be Nice” to The City of Sonoma.

— Stewart Saunders, Sonoma

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