The City of Sonoma is pleased to announce that fifteen Sonoma Valley community members have been appointed to the newly formed Community Recreation and Parks Task Force (Recreation Task Force). The Recreation Task Force is an ad hoc organization formed in January 2021 for the purpose of performing community outreach, data collection and to provide the Community Services and Environment Commission with advice relating to the first two phases of the City’s Multi-Year Recreation and Park Work Plan.
At their December 14, 2020 meeting, Sonoma City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the formation of the Recreation Task Force and the launch of “Phase 1” of the work plan. Phase 1 includes performing a recreation inventory analysis and the creation of a virtual, twice-yearly community recreation catalog. “Sonoma’s parks, playgrounds, activity fields and recreation centers are critical to the health and vitality of our community,” says Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey. “It’s been far too long since we took a good look at this critical infrastructure and made the upgrades our community needs and deserves.” Council approved $20,000 in funding from the General Fund Reserves for the initial phase.
The effort was spearheaded by parks advocate and former Alcaldessa, Karen Collins, who presented a proposal to the City Council in September 2019, requesting the appointment of a citizens group to research and review how similar-sized cities in Sonoma and Napa Counties operate their recreation and parks programs. The objective being to learn and bring forward ideas that might be considered to continue to enhance the programming here in the Sonoma community.
The City of Sonoma does not operate its own Parks and Recreation Department. Instead, the City has invested in outside service agencies, specifically non-profit organizations, which have filled the community’s need for important recreation and community programs. “The City’s recreation and community service partners offer a robust variety of programs but the community does not have a comprehensive regular “recreation guide” which is a standard marketing tool used by most cities to promote these events and classes,” says Collins. “Regularly, there has been a desire expressed to create a cohesive and centralized communication tool regarding the recreational facilities, programs, classes and events that are available.”
With support from Council, City staff collaborated with Ms. Collins and key recreation partners to create a four-phase work plan and strategy for the creation of a comprehensive, Multi-Year Recreation and Park Master Plan. The phases are:
- Phase 1 – Recreation Inventory Analysis and Community Recreation Catalog
- Phase 2 – Park Improvements
- Phase 3 – City Parks and Recreation Benchmark Assessment
- Phase 4 – Recreation and Park Master Plan
To help with this work, a group of community stakeholders has been gathered to be on the Recreation Task Force. Members include Karen Collins (Chair), Steve Page (Co-Chair), Sonoma’s current Alcalde Simon Blattner, Salvador Chavez, Sandi Funke, Maite Iturri, Tony Moll and Jon Parker.
The City’s recreation non-profit partners are also included in the Recreation Task Force and are represented by: Richard Dale, Sonoma Ecology Center; Priscilla Essert, Vintage House; Beth Fox, Sonoma Community Center; and Cary Snowden, Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. In addition, there are three community members who represent other facilities that support recreation programming in Sonoma Valley including: Bruce Abbott, Sonoma Valley Unified School District; Marty Herrick, Field of Dreams; and Joanna Kemper, Overlook Trail Stewards.
With the Recreation Task Force assembled, the next step is to assess the current parks and recreational programs being offered through the City’s Recreation and Community Service partners including the Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Boys and Girls Club, Vintage House, Sonoma Ecology Center and the Sonoma Valley Field of Dreams. “While there are many excellent programs and activities available, there is strong interest in reviewing them to ensure they meet local needs. After the current offerings are assessed, the task force will be seeking public input so we can advise and make recommendations to the City for any improvements or additions,” says Collins.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get started on this project and am grateful for the dedication of Karen Collins in bringing the task force together,” says Mayor Harvey. “I am confident that this accomplished group will provide the valuable expertise needed to help guide this project.” The Recreation Task Force is set to meet in early February.