A year of renovations coming to Maxwell Farms Regional Park

Construction vehicles will be a common sight at the park as workers improve the baseball and soccer fields, among other upgrades.|

Construction broke ground at Maxwell Farms Regional Park earlier this month, kicking off phase one of the county’s renovation plans for the 85-acre recreation area along Verano Avenue.

Major improvements at the park have been a long time coming. An earlier master plan dated in 1986 led to the mid-’90s addition of the Boys & Girls Club, a new baseball field, a skate park and a playground. The latest master plan — finalized in 2019 — outlines the various enhancements coming to Sonoma Valley’s much-used park.

Construction will be broken up into three phases. The first is already underway, and will include the western baseball field and a full-size soccer field being re-oriented and structured with synthetic turf, new restrooms and a concession building, an expanded parking lot, a trail stretching from Verano Avenue into the park with multiple creek access points and improved disability accessibility.

The project is perceived favorably by representatives from Sonoma Valley Soccer, Sonoma Little League, Sonoma Youth Lacrosse and the Boys & Girls Club. But not everyone sees the changes as a positive for the park.

Henry and Paula Manjarrez, who are 79 and 69 respectively, have walked along the path in Maxwell Park nearly everyday for over 20 years. When they set out for their daily walk earlier this month, they were unhappy to see that the path was blocked, and the tree that shaded their favorite bench had been cut down.

Paula said they usually see anywhere from 10 to 15 people, most of whom they know from the park, walking the path each morning, but recently it’s been far less.

“Do I like it? No. Am I angry this happened? Yes,” said Paula Manjarrez.

Sonoma County Regional Parks put out a press release notifying the public about the looming construction, but Paula Manjarrez wishes they would’ve put up signs.

She’s been worried about the renovations creating potential problems for the park. She lives close by, and has observed people drinking in the park after dark when sports games go later into the night. With the installation of lights around the new soccer and baseball fields being a part of the Master Plan, night games will likely become more normal.

The county was eager to get the project moving after the remaining funding for the budget was approved on Aug. 2. The overall cost to fulfill the new Maxwell Farms Master Plan is approximately $13 million, and the county has approved and allocated enough funds to carry out phase one of the plan.

Funding for the project includes:

  • $1.65 million from the District 1 Community Infrastructure Project funds.
  • $1.4 million from the Board of Supervisors during the 2022-23 budget hearings in June.
  • $1 million from a state grant.
  • $972,933 from Parks Measurement M category 2 funding.
  • $925,899 from a State Parks Recreational Infrastructure and Revenue Enhancement grant.
  • $500,000 from Parks Measure M category 3 funding.
  • $250,000 Ag + Open Space District Matching grant.
  • $202,000 from Park Mitigation Fees Area 6.
  • $130,000 in General Fund Disabled Access funds.
  • $125,000 from Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation Funding.
  • $65,000 in Parks Mitigation Area 6 funds.
  • $57,000 from a Community Development Block grant.

The Board of Supervisors awarded the construction contract to Bauman Landscape and Construction Inc., and the county expects work to run through next summer, so long as weather and emergencies permit.

Phase two of the project will include:

  • A smaller synthetic turf youth soccer field
  • A new play and exercise area
  • An off-leash dog area
  • A bicycle pump track
  • Enhancements to the skate park
  • More landscaping

Phase three will finalize the project with:

  • A sand volleyball court
  • Renovations to the tennis and pickle ball courts
  • The removal of non-native trees
  • Riparian restoration

Full funding for the final two phases has not yet been completed. Special use permits and picnic reservations are unavailable while construction is underway, and because alcohol isn’t allowed in the park without a group picnic reservation, it is not permitted.

Contact the reporter Rebecca Wolff at rebecca.wolff@sonomanews.com.

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