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Bill Lynch: Imagining the possibilities for Sonoma in the years ahead

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Dottie and I stopped staying up until midnight to welcome the New Year many years ago. Now, we manage to stay up to watch TV for the ball drop in Times Square, New York City.

Fresh and rested on New Year’s Day, I can watch the Rose Bowl Parade, a bowl game, or better yet, catch up on reading newspapers, magazines and interesting articles on the web.

While doing just that, an article about Elon Musk’s proposed Loop transit system caught my attention. It reminded me that there are useable railroad tracks in Schellville. At one time, Sonoma Valley was connected from Schellville to Kenwood by its own railroad system. In fact, Railroad Avenue in El Verano was once where part of the tracks ran.

I mused, “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a centrally located train transit system that ran from Sonoma to Kenwood now.”

And something like Elon Musk’s Loop system would fit nicely on all of the tracks that run east and west from Schellville, possibly connecting Valley residents to other transit systems like Bart and the Smart Train.

It is a bit fanciful I suppose. But Dottie and I have traveled enough in Europe to experience good transit systems that are convenient and add to the quality of life while reducing traffic.

There will come a time soon, when we all conclude that we’ve taken car travel about as far as we can, and it is time to really invest in transit systems that we would actually use.

And while I fantasized about building a transit system, another story about putting affordable housing near such transit hubs caught my eye. There is a bill in the state legislature based on this idea.

Will it happen in my lifetime? Maybe not, but it’s a nice thing to dream about on a New Year’s Day afternoon.

Another article reported that Marin County was getting some new wildfire detection cameras installed in fire prone areas this year. According to experts such early detection can make a huge difference, especially because devastating wildfires seem to be the new normal for our state. Sonoma County is deploying some near Lake Sonoma.

I don’t recall seeing a plan to install any here in the Valley of the Moon. Why not? All three of the worst wildfires to ever happen here (in 1923, 1964 and 2017) came into our Valley from Napa County through the area near Nun’s Canyon, northeast of Glen Ellen. Those ridges and canyons on our eastern border are prime spots for fire detection devices. Is there any agency that can make that happen?

Then I saw a story about the quiet shutdown of Sonoma Developmental Center, and that reminded me of all kinds of fanciful “What if?” ideas, many of which have already been put forth at local public forums regarding how to best use that facility.

There are many good ones, most of which I support. My favorite is to set up the two lakes on the grounds for public fishing.

There ought to be a place in our Valley where kids (even very old ones) can go fishing.

And those are the kinds of things I mused about on the first day of 2019.