If we look at the city of Sonoma’s plaza, we see a lovely park with trees, an amphitheater, city hall, tourism office, rose garden, duck pond, playground, and picnic tables. This lovely plaza was once a dirt parade ground for General Vallejo’s troops.
When visiting Santa Fe, I found myself comparing their plaza to our Sonoma plaza. Theirs was more commercial and less of a community park. Lots of vendors, selling everything you can imagine, yet still an attractive space, but not as green or parklike as ours.
Now we come to the idea of a plaza for the Springs community. I am sure by now everyone knows I was not too crazy about the KS Mattson/ county plan, complete with underground parking garage. Regardless of what one thinks about Mattson’s beliefs, there are two real reasons why this plan was scrapped. The community and the Springs MAC knew that based on Mattson’s track record as a “developer,” not much would get developed. We would have ended up with a hole in the ground, surrounded by plastic-covered cyclone fencing for years.
In addition, the deal expired anyway, due to the fact that KS Mattson Partners had not submitted a term sheet as required by the initial agreement with the county. You can spin it any way you like, but these are facts. You can watch the MAC meeting and see the draft letter they were composing. You can read the documents signed by KS Mattson and the county and there it all is.
But, what is a plaza? I have started a survey to find out what people may or may not want in a plaza or community gathering place for the Springs. I am seeing some interesting comments. Some people think a plaza must be paved. Some think it must be in a commercial area only. Some think a park cannot also have a community spot like an amphitheater if it is near a residential area, as it will be too noisy. Some think everyone should be able to walk or bike to it, thus parking is not a concern. Others say, lots of parking is a must.
After reading some of the comments, I am left wondering if some of the writers have frequented the city of Sonoma’s plaza. I live in the Springs, but I go there all the time: City Party, art and craft fairs, farmers market or meeting a group of friends for a little event or picnic they have planned. Yes it is in the middle of a commercial area, but it really is a park.
When I was growing up in Minneapolis there were always community events going on in the neighborhood parks in residential areas. Concerts, plays, and fairs. In fact, in the ‘60s we had rotating love-ins, with bands.
So to me the idea of a public gathering place or “plaza” can have many faces. The challenge now is to get something done for the Springs community and not wait around until the Springs Specific Plan comes up in June. As we know there are a bunch of residents along Donald Street that do not want to be part of that plan and most likely will tie it up for quite some time.