Even though plans to shutter the Sonoma Developmental Center have been in the works for years, and the deadline for its closure is Dec. 21, 2018, the Glen Ellen community has felt somewhat left out of the conversation about the future of the facility and its grounds, according to Alice Horowitz of the Glen Ellen Forum.
“After the last residents move into group homes, it’s the people of Glen Ellen and Eldridge who will be most impacted by what happens next,” said Horowitz, who chairs the SDC/Eldridge subcommittee of the Glen Ellen Forum community group.
To that end, the Forum is holding a workshop at the Dunbar School on Monday, April 16, starting at 6:30 p.m. It will be a moderated forum, with representatives from the Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Ecology Center, the Glen Ellen Historical Society and other participants in the “official” SDC advisory body, the SDC Coalition, chaired by Supervisor Susan Gorin.
“We are not presuming to speak for the county or coalition, this is more of a community workshop,” said Horowitz. However, she added, “we want to take a proactive stance in voicing the concerns of the community.”
As well as the next steps for the buildings at the expansive SDC campus, Horowitz and others are particularly engaged by the issue of land use. “Whatever happens with the campus, we really want to know that the wildlife corridor is going to be taken into account. So much time and energy has been put into establishing that wildlife corridor, and it is really important to everyone.”
The SDC/Eldridge Committee includes three ad hoc members – Vicki Hill, Tracey Salcedo-Chourre and Horowitz – but has lined up a solid panel with the knowledge and influence to the April 16 meeting worthwhile. These include Richard Dale of the Sonoma Ecology Center, John McCaull of Sonoma Land Trust, Jim Shere and Gregg Montgomery of the Glen Ellen Historical Society, and Supervisor Susan Gorin. Ellie Insley will act as moderator.
That panel reflects the different interests and concerns at play in the “transformation” of SDC, and the subcommittee has planned for breakout sessions so that everyone can be heard. Said Horowitz, “We want people to feel like they have an opportunity to voice their concerns, to a talk about their hopes and fears and whatever else is important to them.”
It’s only one arm of the relatively-new Glen Ellen Forum, which came together in its present form in 2016. Recent actions include distribution of traffic-calming signs, a “Ready Glen Ellen” emergency plan, and their recently-obtained nonprofit status.
Of course any discussion of Glen Ellen has to mention the fires that, only six months ago, so affected the hamlet, destroying 183 homes and almost 200 other structures. “Glen Ellen came out of that a strong community,” said Horowitz. “The Forum has been really great at bringing out town together after the fires, with monthly meetings, community meals and other projects. People are starting to talk to each other. Credit the Glen Ellen Forum for creating that platform.”
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Glen Ellen Forum events
Workshop on the future of the SDC, at Dunbar School on Monday, April 16, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Glen Ellen Historical Society Fundraiser - Saturday April 21, at Valley of Moon winery, 777 Madrone Dr., 4 - 8 p.m. Tickets $25 at eventbrite.com or at the door.
Earth Day Clean Up, Sunday April 22, organized by the Projects committee. Meet at th ePost Office parking lot at 10 a.m.
Next GEF Meeting: Monday, May 7th 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at Garden Court Café, 13647 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen