This page is intended to provide basic information about Sebastopol park and recreation resources. The information includes: official City parks; other park and open space resources; and recreation facilities. It does not include school sites, most of which also provide recreation areas open to the public during non-school hours.
Sebastopol is blessed with an array of park, open space and recreational resources, including those provided by local non-profits and a private development. Most of the facilities have identified issues or needs, some of which are quite substantial (complete renovation of Ives Park, replacement of the Community Center, replacement of the local library). A number of other needs, such as for restrooms at several sites, would also be expensive.
In the last 20 years, a number of significant new park and open space areas have been created, which is to the community’s credit. These include: the town Plaza; the Laguna Preserve; the Skategarden Park; the Laguna Uplands; the Railroad Forest bike path connector; Tomodachi Park; and the Barlow green. An expansion of Skategarden Park is pending. Most of these new park and open space areas have impacted the maintenance resources of the Public Works Department, which also assumed maintenance responsibilities for landscaping in numerous new ‘Street Smart Sebastopol’ pedestrian crossings.
While there has been continuing community interest in creating new park resources, these new facilities have created substantial ongoing maintenance and improvement needs, in addition to needs at the City’s existing facilities such as Ives Park, Libby Park, the Youth Park, and recreational facilities such as Ives Pool and the Community Center.
City Parks and Open Space Resources
Description: Ives Park is a community park, located at 7400 Willow Street. It was built over 65 years ago and is the oldest park in Sebastopol. It contains a municipal swimming pool, baseball field, playground, theatre stage, grassy fields, and picnic areas as well as a portion of Calder Creek. Ives Park is also home to several festivals: Cajun Festival, the Roma Festival, and the annual Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival that draws approximately 25,000 people.
See: Ives Park Master Plan http://ci.sebastopol.ca.us/sites/default/files/rmansour/ives_park_master...
Description: The Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetlands Preserve is a diverse wetlands area, located adjacent to Laguna Youth Park on the eastern edge of Sebastopol. It is biologically diverse, as it is home to many species of birds, mammals, fish, and amphibians as well as native plant species. It provides an important overflow area for the Russian River during periods ofheavy winter rain, serving as a natural holding basin, which captures and slows floodwaters, easing their impact on lower Russian River communities. It contains several miles of trails on both sides of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, a seasonal floating bridge, as well as an outdoor classroom that can accommodate approximately 50 people.
Since 1998, the City has implemented the Laguna Park Master Plan in numerous phases, removing debris, unnecessary fencing, and non-native plant and tree species, developing trails, and planting thousands of native trees and shrubs.
When the Laguna Preserve areas, Tomodachi Park, and the Laguna Uplands site are considered together, there are over 97 acres of publically accessible Laguna lands in the City of Sebastopol, which would appear to be an extraordinary number of open space acres for a very small city.
In fiscal year 2014-15, the City plans to prepare a Laguna Preserve Management Plan to analyze current conditions, issues, and opportunities. Known issues include: trail maintenance (some trails need repair; a number of benches are broken); management of invasive plant species; lack of a cohesive park identity; and established protocols for restoration and improvement projects that protect the special ecology. As noted above, there are over 97 acres of Laguna lands open to the public in the City of Sebastopol, and in terms of identity, physical connections, and management, ways should be explored to knit these properties together.
In addition, Laguna Preserve park areas are counted minimally towards the General Plan park standards. This issue should be reviewed in the General Plan update, as the Preserve includes substantial acreage and should be given substantially greater credit.
See: Website http://ci.sebastopol.ca.us/page/laguna-wetlands-preserve
Laguna de Santa Rosa Master Plan
Laguna Youth Park
Description: The Laguna Youth Park is a community park, located on the eastern border of Sebastopol between the Community Center, Youth Annex, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa. It was built in 1987 and contains picnic areas and two baseball fields that are used by the Little League. The Youth Annex includes a brick labyrinth in its lawn area. The relatively new ‘Peace Garden’ is also located in this area, with implementation of improvements partly completed. The area, adjacent to the Community Center, is also home to several annual events, which draw thousands of people.
Some of the Youth Park site furnishings (benches and tables) are showing their age and should be replaced; pathway repaving is needed; there are some drainage issues; and the play structure perimeter material (a large PVC pipe) would ideally be replaced with a less visually obtrusive material. In addition, while the Little League has a restroom that is open for it for games, there is no public restroom, which would be desirable to serve the park and Laguna Preserve. In addition, the Peace Garden needs a drip irrigation system and some perimeter landscaping. Some of the Youth Annex landscaping needs improvement. Although they are owned by the City, access to the two ball fields is restricted to Little League use, after some damage by event users and inconsiderate dog owners. In terms of general recreational community use, this is unfortunate and should be reviewed.
Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm
Description: Luther Burbank purchased a 15-acre farm on Gold Ridge in Sebastopol in 1885. Burbank introduced over 800 varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains during his career. He developed many of California's plums and prunes, the ancestor of the Idaho Potato, the
Shasta Daisy, as well as Plumcots, Thornless Blackberry, and Spineless Cactus. Burbank he developed and grew thousands of new hybrids, cross breeds and selections at his Experiment Farm. After Luther died in 1926, Mrs. Burbank established an apple orchard on a portion of the Farm and leased the rest to Stark Brothers Nursery. When their lease expired in 1957 the property deteriorated and subsequently passed into new ownership.
Local historians, intent on preserving the Burbank legacy in Sebastopol, formed the Western Sonoma County Historical Society in 1974. The cottage was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The City worked with the Society in its efforts to obtain three acres of the original farm and to restore the Cottage on the property. Restoration began in 1983. The Society's Farm Committee, with the aid of volunteers continues to maintain the cottage and Burbank plant varieties, provide a self-guiding plant walk, and train Docents for guided tours since 1983.
Maintenance of this property is almost entirely performed by Historical Society volunteers, or by contractors retained by the Society. This is an ongoing challenge and volunteers have expressed the desire for maintenance assistance from the City. There are also improvement needs, such as an additional restroom. See: Website http://www.wschsgrf.org/luther-burbank-gold-ridge-experiment-farm
Description: Skategarden Park includes a skate park and community garden, and is located on Laguna Park Way across from The Barlow. It was built in 2008 and contains a 15,000 square foot state-of- the-art skate structure and 23 community garden plots. There is also an ‘art wall’ where anyone can paint, and which changes on a weekly basis.
The City has purchased an adjacent half-acre site for expansion of the Skategarden Park and is currently engaged in a process to update and reduce costs for the expansion project design. Construction is planned for summer 2015.
There are ongoing maintenance issues with the existing park. Some of the original irrigation system failed, resulting in the loss of a substantial amount of the original landscaping and poor growth by some remaining plants; also some landscaping, particularly between the main pathway and skate structure, did not survive due to high foot traffic. Efforts should be made to repair irrigation systems and to plant durable replacement landscaping. Due to restrictions on use of leaf blowers, debris removal in the skate structure and pathways is sometimes an issue. While graffiti has not been a major issue, pathways, boulders, signs and pathways are sometimes marked, creating an ongoing maintenance need. Several custom-artist-designed benches and tables had their tops destroyed by vandals; new tops are needed.
Description: Spooner Park is a ‘pocket park,’ located at 910 South Main Street (SR116). It also includes the ‘Solar Dragon’ solar panel installation, which offsets power use by a nearby City well.
Due to its location, size, lack of park amenities, and the impact of the solar installation, Spooner Park is better considered as a landscaped median rather than a ‘park.’ Consideration should be given to its removal from the official list of park resources, but could be considered as an open space/landscape resource.
Description: Tomodachi Park is a Laguna Preserve park, located at 6665 Sebastopol Avenue. It was completed in 2013 and resulted from collaboration with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District that allowed the City to purchase the 'Village Park' property. Park improvements occurred in the open space area of the property; the mobile home use has been maintained.
The entire ‘Village Park’ property was purchased by the City for park purposes. However, the Village Park mobile home use has been maintained, and the City has not made a determination as to the status of the mobile home use. The City did prepare a conceptual plan for park-related improvements of the entire property; Tomodachi Park represents implementation of one portion of this plan.
Tomodachi Park is approximately 8.7 acres and includes picnic tables, barbecues, a short trail segment, and native tree planting. The intent of the park design is to be a passive use park in the Laguna Preserve system. The park includes stately Valley Oaks and access to the Laguna channel. Low split-rail-type fencing delineates the park area from the adjacent mobile home area to protect the privacy of the Village Park residents. The improvements were also designed so as not to conflict with Caltrans frontage improvements related to the pending Highway 12 bridge replacement project. The remaining mobile home area is approximately 4 acres in size.
The entire site is in the 100-year floodplain, with lower areas generally subject to annual flooding, and the entire site at risk in a major flood. Park improvements have been designed to be generally compatible with flooding; mobile homes are at substantial flood risk.
The planned Caltrans bridge replacement project will have temporary impacts on the property, but will improve access by constructing a sidewalk along the property frontage and reconfiguring the driveway.
Both Tomodachi Park and most of the Village Park property are owned by the City of Sebastopol and have City utilities. However, except for one small unimproved segment, the property is outside of the City limits. Given its location, functions, and ownership, it should be annexed into the City.
A public restroom at Tomodachi Park would be desirable, but there are challenges associated with the location, in the 100-year floodplain.
The Village Park mobile home use presents a marginal appearance and the mobile homes and RVs are located in an area of periodic flooding. In the future, the City may make a determination about the mobile home use, and either enhance the level of maintenance, or change the mobile home use. Both scenarios have substantial budget implications and in addition, housing needs of the mobile home residents are important. In the interim, or if retained, buildings at Village Park should be painted, and likely need other repairs; driveways need repair; landscaping should be improved; and mobile home and RV facilities and lease spaces should be inspected, and maintained appropriately by their private owners.
Another issue identified in prior studies is site vehicle access. Access to a nearby traffic signal through a neighboring property should be explored.
The pending Laguna Preserve Management Plan will review issues and opportunities associated with the Tomodachi Park portion of the property.
See: Feasibility Study
Mario Savio Free Speech Town Plaza
Description: The Town Plaza is a town square, located at 6901 McKinley Street. It includes a gazebo, a fountain, numerous benches, and a public restroom as well as perimeter parking
Willard Libby Park
Description: Willard Libby Park (Libby Park) is a neighborhood park, located at 7985 Valentine Avenue adjacent to Brookhaven School on the western side of Sebastopol. It was built in the mid-1970s and contains the Garzot Community Building, a playground, a pond, two baseball fields, tennis courts, a small rock climbing wall, a bocce ball court, a gazebo, picnic areas, and lawns. Several local schools frequent Libby Park for field trips.
Other Park and Open Space Resources
Sebastopol Memorial Lawn Cemetery
Description: The Sebastopol Memorial Lawn Cemetery is a 20.85-acre facility located at 7951 Bodega Avenue. This privately-owned facility constitutes a significant open space resource, and historically, is open to the public. Older portions of the cemetery, to the west, are minimally maintained. A portion of the property is an undeveloped apple orchard.
Description: The Laguna Uplands is a natural open space area, located to the east of Sebastopol on the western edge of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation owns the site and its conservation values are protected permanently by an Open Space District conservation easement. Native plant restoration is ongoing. The site is open to the public and there is a short pathway that can be accessed at the end of Palm Drive; or the site may be accessed via a walkway at the back of Palm Drive Hospital. The site is characterized by moderately sloping hillsides, with sweeping scenic views across the Laguna looking toward Taylor Mountain. The site has an 'outdoor classroom' feature, which also doubles as an emergency medical helicopter landing site. Students use this site as an outdoor classroom to learn about nature through the Open Space District’s In Our Own Back Yard educational program. Restoration plantings have also been implemented by Laguna Keepers and other volunteers organized by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation.
Ragle Ranch Regional Park
Description: Ragle Ranch Regional Park (Ragle Ranch) is a 157-acre Sonoma County Regional Park, located to the west of Sebastopol and immediately adjoining the City border. Ragle Ranch contains a number of amenities: Baseball fields, soccer fields, volleyball courts, picnic areas, a playground, a dog park, a peace garden with a sculpture, a small pond, a large grove of California Live Oak trees, and several miles of trails, including a nature trail that connects to Atascadero Creek. Ragle Park is also home to the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair, held in August.
Railroad Forest Bike Path
Description: The Railroad Forest Bike Path, completed in 2005, is a Class I facility, approximately 1/4 mile in length, which runs northerly from the Joe Rodota Trail, east of Petaluma Avenue (SR 116) to the intersection of Sebastopol Avenue (SR 12) and Morris Street. It forms part of the linkage through the Sebastopol, which connects the County's Joe Rodota and West County Trail, providing a continuous route for recreational users and bike commuters between western Sonoma County and Santa Rosa. It includes two bridges that span the lower reaches of Calder Creek and jurisdictional wetlands. The path was designed and constructed by the City, using a combination of funding sources including TDA Article 3, BAAQMD (Air District) funds and a State Recreational Trails grant. Due to heavy riparian growth, the Path needs regular maintenance.
Joe Rodota and West County Regional Trails
Description: The Joe Rodota Trail is an 8.47 mile paved trail that is located between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.
The trail starts at the pedestrian/bicycle bridge intersection with the Prince Memorial Greenway (between West 3rd Street and Railroad Street), southwest of the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. The trail ends near the intersection of Mill Station Road and Highway 116 in Sebastopol. Access to the trail is located off the following public streets: Roberts Avenue, Dutton Avenue, Stony Point Road, Wright Road, Sebastopol Road, Merced Avenue, Llano Road, Petaluma Avenue, High School Road, Cleveland Avenue, Ellis Court, DuFranc Avenue, Hurlbut Avenue, and Highway 116.
Sections of the trail run along an abandoned railroad line. The trail offers an opportunity for families with young children to experience an outdoor outing for walking, bicycle riding, horseback-riding, and roller-skating. The trail meanders along agricultural ranches, and the Laguna of Santa Rosa. There are signs of the historic railroad throughout the property. Three bridges are on top of the old train trestles.
The trail is especially popular in the spring with a burst of color from wildflowers. The trail is an excellent place for year-round bird watching.
The West County Trail parallels Highway 116, going from Sebastopol to Forestville. The Joe Rodota and West County Regional Trails are built along land that was once the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway, a line that linked Petaluma and Santa Rosa with Sebastopol and Forestville. The trails are paved and total 14 miles. An unpaved equestrian trail runs parallel to the paved trail. The trail offers beautiful views of farms, vineyards, and other agricultural lands. The County of Sonoma maintains this trail system.
Jewell Avenue Extension
Description: The Jewell Avenue Extension is a Class 1 bike path that is 0.9 miles long, located at Jewell Avenue and Meadowlark Drive.While this very short segment connects Jewell Avenue to Lynch Road, it does not connect to any other Class 1 routes.
Description: The Barlow was completed in 2013 and is accessible via the following streets: Morris Street, Laguna Parkway, McKinley Street, Depot Street, and Sebastopol Avenue. The Barlow includes a centrally-located 2,400
square foot 'green' designed to be a community gathering area, with a sunken central lawn area surrounded by a seat wall, and benches around the area. While small, the green appears to be a successful public gathering space and is regularly informally used by the public, as well as during special events at The Barlow.
Sebastopol Recreation Facilities
Description: Ives Pool is located within Ives Park on City- owned land at 7400 Willow Street.
It includes two pools: A six lane pool that measures 16 yards by 25 yards and a smaller pool that measures 16 yards by 14 yards. Ives Pool is used by both the Analy High School and El Molino High School swim teams and home to a wide variety of programs, serving a large number of users. Ives Pool is the only public pool in Sonoma County that is successfully operated by a non- profit organization. While substantially maintained by the pool non-profit organization, the City provides maintenance support for Ives Pool.
As an intensely utilized public pool facility, Ives Pool has substantial ongoing maintenance and capital improvement needs. Desired improvements include: expansion of the locker rooms; development of a family locker room/ bathroom; renovation of the picnic/ grounds area, possibly with water play fixtures. Fees, community and City support have enabled Ives Pool to continue its operations, but needs continue, and are significant.
See: Website http://www.ivespool.org
Sebastopol Center for the Arts and Veterans Building
Description: The Sebastopol Center for the Arts (Center for the Arts) is located in the Veterans Building, adjacent to Ives Park and Ives Pool, at 282 South High Street.
The Center presents exhibits, performances, classes and events, in the visual, performing, literary and film arts. In 2013 the Center had 18 gallery exhibitions that displayed 825 works of art from 550 artists. The Center also presents
concerts. In addition, the Center produces the acclaimed annual Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, which in 2014 showed 52 films and
drew filmmakers from Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ireland. In addition, the Center conducts numerous art, music, movement and writing classes for adults and children. Like the Community Center, the Center for the Arts has experienced both operational and capital improvement budget challenges.
See: Website http://www.sebarts.org
Sebastopol Community Center and Youth Annex
Description: The Sebastopol Community and Cultural Center (Community Center) currently operates out of three City-owned buildings: The Main Event Hall (390 Morris Street), the Youth Annex (425 Morris Street), and the Garzot Community Building (7985 Valentine Avenue).
The Community Center was founded in collaboration with the City in 1982 to provide a vehicle for the citizens of Sebastopol and surrounding areas to provide recreation services. Unlike some larger cities, the City does not run 'recreation' services, and the Community Center was intended to help provide this function (along with other entities like Ives Pool, Little League, and the Center for the Arts).
The Community Center operates on the City land on a rent-free basis, and receives some budget support from the City. The Community Center is a non-profit agency, which supports itself through fees for services, fundraising efforts, donations, and limited City
support. Committed to quality education and enrichment, the Sebastopol Community Center originates and develops a wide range of recreational, service, and cultural programs. The Center provides the facilities to meet these community needs at all levels and for all ages, and also rents space for community and private events.
The main building at 390 Morris Street is subject to severe flooding, which in the past has caused substantial damage. The building should be replaced with a facility that meets current flood protection standards, which would be a major undertaking for the community, but which would limit future losses, and be a opportunity to provide a more functional and aesthetically enhanced facility.
See: Website http://www.seb.org
Description: The Sebastopol branch library, located at 7140 Bodega Avenue, is one of the most heavily-utilized branches in the Sonoma County library system. The library is operated by the County library system, but is on a site and building owned by the City of Sebastopol.
In 2014, the City sponsored a major re-landscaping of the library and City Hall properties, which has been partly implemented and is ongoing. Although with the advent of electronic resources, the nature of libraries is changing, the Sebastopol branch is an estimated half the size as would be ideal, based on its current use. There has been community discussion of the possible need for a larger facility. In recent years, there has also been county-wide discussion of library system governance, and a desire to restore hours lost due to budget constraints.
See: Website http://www.sonoma.lib.ca.us/branches/Sebastopol.html
Sebastopol Little League
Description: Sebastopol Little League (League) is a youth baseball organization affiliated with Little League Baseball, Inc. headquartered in Williamsport, PA.
It was organized in 1957 and operates a number of different leagues for different age groups, serving many youth and adults every year. The League operates three ball-fields on City-owned land, with two fields at the Laguna Youth Park, and one field at Ives Park. The League maintains and manages these fields. The size of the ball-fields has been an issue, although no new sites for ball-fields have been identified. Another issue is access to the fields by other users. In the past, other users have caused damage to the fields, which resulted in the League restricting access. It would be desirable to make the fields more accessible to the general public. Another, less significant issue is the visual impact of advertising placards, particularly at Ives Park where the placards block visual access from the park into the fields. The League should address this issue.
See: Website http://www.eteamz.com/sebastopollittleleague/
Sebastopol Senior Center
Description: The Sebastopol Senior Center (Senior Center) (formerly The Burbank Activity Center) is located in a City-owned house at 167 North High Street. Its concept was developed by 10 community-minded leaders in 1968 to create a gathering place for seniors in the Sebastopol community. The City Council gave their support and authorized the use of a City-owned house in 1969. The Senior Center has the distinction of being the oldest continually operating senior center in Sonoma County. With City support and donations from the community, the Senior Center remodeled and expanded its facilities to enhance its services. The Senior Center’s mission is to create an environment that encourages independence for seniors, and provides learning, social, and recreational opportunities in pursuit of an active, healthy life. The Center also provides resources and referrals for seniors, their family members, and other individuals, and helps the greater community understand the aging process and the issues that surround that process.
Parking is an ongoing issue for the Senior Center. The City’s ‘library’ parking lot is the primary parking resource and is heavily used by library patrons, Senior Center visitors, City Hall visitors, and downtown shoppers. In addition, although the Senior Center expanded several years ago, there is a need for more space.
See: Website http://www.sebastopolseniorcenter.org