In the past year, residents of the Springs region of Sonoma has put up with a lot – torn-up streets, new sidewalk construction and long-overdue remodeling, a major housing development, controversial paint jobs and a ginormous chicken.
What better occasion to throw a party? What’s being touted as “the inaugural Springs Festival” will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10, to celebrate the completion of many of the many safety and beautification improvements along Highway 12. The idea was hatched (there’s that chicken again) in Supervisor Susan Gorin’s office, following the SV Connect meeting held last March on the county’s support services for housing.
Though that meeting was useful for those who attended, attendance was disappointing. Gorin and her team considered ways to increase community involvement and receptivity to county programs, and about a month ago hit upon the obvious idea: Why not a party?
“The Springs Festival is an opportunity to recognize the progress we have made together,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin. “We will celebrate everything from new sidewalks to the Larson Park Master Plan Update, as well as collaborative community and economic development in the Springs.”
The completion of the Highway 12 project marks the culmination of years if not decades of cooperation and drive by area residents and county offices. Gorin said they have invited her predecessor, former supervisor Valerie Brown to the ceremony. “We should certainly recognize and celebrate her achievements,” said the current supervisor, though she also noted that other former supervisors including Janet Nicholas, who resigned in 1991, deserve some credit.
“But Michael Cale is the one who really pushed it through, especially the first phase of it, and Valerie Brown was the warrior for the second phase. I was sort of the clean-up act,” said Gorin. Cale was appointed to replace Nicholas and served for 10 years, resigning himself in 2001 and being replaced by Brown.
The Saturday, Sept. 10 celebration harkens back to the “Spring in the Springs” celebrations that were held in the 1990s at the Fiesta Plaza, according to Gina Cuclis, now president of the Sonoma County Board of Education. “Let’s celebrate what the community has accomplished after three decades of trying to make this happen,” said Cuclis.
“There are a number of folks who are cosponsoring this event, and certainly can take credit for the completion of the Highway 12 project,” emphasized Gorin. She specifically mentioned the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Springs Community Alliance, La Luz Center, Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, Sonoma Valley Hospital, Nuestra Voz and ArtEscape.
The county agencies operate under the umbrella of Sonoma Valley Connect, which is working to bridge the gap between community members who need services or who are looking for opportunities to get involved, with the nonprofit and government service providers who are looking for opportunities to engage members of the community.
The day will kick off with a ribbon cutting at noon at Boyes Plaza Center, at the site of the former Church Mouse Thrift Shop and the ad hoc parking area for area workers. With the sidewalk closure of the Sonoma Highway side, the lot is no longer a short-cut but a natural “community hub” for the Boyes area.
Celebrants are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to the Boyes Plaza for the ribbon-cutting, in part because emphasis has been put throughout the project in creating a bike- and pedestrian-friendly community.