The City of Sonoma has never had a Parks and Rec Department, instead relying primarily on nonprofit organizations to provide recreational programs, sites and opportunities. Now, an official effort to better coordinate and promote those options is underway with the formation of the Community Recreation and Parks Task Force.
Step one in the multi-year plan is for the 15 members of the Task Force to identify and inventory the range of activities, everything from youth sports at Boys & Girls Club to classes for seniors at Vintage House.
“Sonoma’s parks, playgrounds, activity fields and recreation centers are critical to the health and vitality of our community,” says Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey. “It’s been far too long since we took a good look at this critical infrastructure and made the upgrades our community needs and deserves.”
City Council approved in December $20,000 in funding from the General Fund Reserves for the initial phase. It includes performing a recreation inventory and the creation of a virtual, twice-yearly community recreation catalog.
The effort was spearheaded by parks advocate Karen Collins, who presented a proposal to the City Council in September 2019, requesting the appointment of a citizens group to research and review how similar-sized cities in Sonoma and Napa Counties operate their recreation and parks programs.
The objective, Collins said, to form ideas to enhance the programming in the Sonoma community.
“The City’s recreation and community service partners offer a robust variety of programs but the community does not have a comprehensive, regular ‘recreation guide’ which is a standard marketing tool used by most cities,” says Collins. “Regularly, there has been a desire expressed to create a cohesive and centralized communication tool regarding the recreational facilities, programs, classes and events that are available.”
Members of the newly-formed task force include Collins (Chair), Steve Page (Co-Chair), Simon Blattner, Salvador Chavez, Sandi Funke, Maite Iturri, Tony Moll and Jon Parker.
City staff collaborated with Collins and key recreation partners to lay out the phases of a multi-year plan, in four phases: Recreation Inventory Analysis and Community Recreation Catalog; Park Improvements; City Parks and Recreation Benchmark Assessment; and Recreation and Park Master Plan.
The City’s recreation non-profit partners are also included in the Recreation Task Force and are represented by: Richard Dale, Sonoma Ecology Center; Priscilla Essert, Vintage House; Beth Fox, Sonoma Community Center; and Cary Snowden-Dacy, Sonoma Valley Boys and Girls Club.
In addition, there are three community members who represent other facilities that support recreation programming in Sonoma Valley: Bruce Abbott, Sonoma Valley Unified School District; Marty Herrick, Field of Dreams; and Joanna Kemper, Overlook Trail Stewards.
“While there are many excellent programs and activities available, there is strong interest in reviewing them to ensure they meet local needs. After the current offerings are assessed, the task force will be seeking public input so we can advise and make recommendations to the City for any improvements or additions,” says Collins.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get started on this project and am grateful for the dedication of Karen Collins in bringing the task force together,” says Mayor Harvey. “I am confident that this accomplished group will provide the valuable expertise needed to help guide this project.” The Recreation Task Force is set to meet in early February.
Learn more about the Recreation and Park Work Plan and Recreation Task Force as well as subscribe to receive recreation updates on the City’s website at www.sonomacity.org/departments/recreation.