Milestone achieved: California Transportation Commission approves sale of 49 acres for Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway project

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California Construction News staff writer

A milestone was reached for the Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway project when the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved the sale of 49  acres of Southeast Greenway property to the City of Santa Rosa. The city estimates that ownership will be completed by the end of July 2024.

As a condition of purchase, the city declared that the Southeast Greenway Property will be used for a public purpose in perpetuity and agreed to a deed restriction. Caltrans will retain about nine acres of excess lands for housing development.

“Acquiring the 48 acres of Southeast Greenway is an incredible community accomplishment, and I want to recognize the commitment, teamwork, and coordination among agencies and individuals that made this happen,” said Santa Rosa City Manager Maraskeshia Smith. “This moves us closer to safeguarding and improving out natural spaces for the future.”

As a condition of purchase, the city declared that the Southeast Greenway Property will be used for a public purpose in perpetuity and agreed to a deed restriction. Caltrans will retain about nine acres of excess lands for housing development.

“This is a wonderful win-win for the community and for nature,” said Eamon O’Byrne, executive director of Sonoma Land Trust. “Sonoma Land Trust will continue to work closely with the Greenway Campaign to support an equitable park planning process that engages all of Santa Rosa’s communities.

“Projects like this one bring the community together to protect open, natural space in the middle of our city, and provide climate resilience and a natural cooling center for everyone to enjoy.” 

Decades of work has gone into creating a “Central Park” for Sonoma County’s largest city.

“Through steadfast loyalty of supporters, insightful wisdom of the Partners and complete collaboration with the City, we accomplished a wonderful public-private partnership that models citizen involvement,” said Chair of the Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway Campaign Thea Hensel. “We are thankful to all and look forward to the next phase of the project.”

The purchase was funded through grants and donations secured by The Sonoma Land Trust and Southeast Greenway Campaign. In addition, Sonoma County Ag + Open Space allocated up to $1 million through their Community Spaces Matching Grant Program to support the property acquisition.

“We are so happy to see this major step forward for the Greenway,” said Ag + Open Space General Manager Misti Arias. “Our Community Spaces Matching Grant Program is intended to do exactly this type of work – bring open space into the heart of our cities and towns to ensure everyone has equitable access to the outdoors, while also conserving invaluable natural resources like portions of Matanzas, Santa Rosa, and Spring creeks that cross the property and serve as plant and wildlife habitat right in the middle of our county’s biggest city.”

The Greenway will also provide pedestrian pathways and bike route options connecting the western section at Farmers Lane to the Prince Memorial Greenway, which ultimately connects to the Joe Rodota Trail and Western Sonoma County. This is a huge leap in connectivity for all of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.

In addition to bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and recreational possibilities, this land is crossed by three creeks – Matanzas, Sierra Park and Spring. Conservation of this land creates new opportunities for creek and wildlife habitat restoration, while also helping to clean our air, offer a cool place amidst urban heat islands, and hold space for people to explore with joy and wonder of the natural world.

“The Southeast Greenway will be a recreational wonderland that will enhance the lives of tens of thousands of Santa Rosa neighbors for decades to come,” said Senate President pro Tempore Mike McGuire. “After a few decades of discussion and debate, the keys of this spectacular open space are finally being turned over to Santa Rosa and we couldn’t be more excited to see this day finally here.

“Here’s to more work and progress to come on Santa Rosa’s own Central Park,” .

Once the property acquisition is final, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department will lead a Park Master Planning Process where community members will have ample opportunity to express their desires for the future Southeast Greenway project.

Visit the Southeast Greenway to learn more.

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