|News from||100 Union Street
Petaluma, CA 94952
Contact: Bruce Hagen; Desk 707.792.3404; Cell 707.974.4855
January 8, 2002
For Immediate Release
Friends of Lafferty Park Sponsor "A Walk to the Park"
Friends of Lafferty Park (FLP) expect a festive turnout for their first "Walk to the Park" on Sunday, January 13, the first of a series of seven-mile hikes to push for opening this long awaited park on Sonoma Mountain.
The 270 acre ridge-top Lafferty Park property, with it's perennial Adobe Creek and sweeping views of the Bay and the Pacific, was purchased for watershed by the City of Petaluma in 1959, and has been designated as a park site in City and Sonoma County plans since 1964. But for the past ten years, a few selfish landowners and their allies in County government have thwarted the public's attempts to open the park. (see attached backgrounder: The Lafferty Park Story.)
"This walk is symbolic: for ten years, we've been struggling uphill to open this spectacular piece of public property," said Friends of Lafferty Park's Bruce Hagen. "We've got one more step: getting the support of the Sonoma County Supervisors."
According to FLP, County cooperation is needed to removed the final two obstacles to public access to Lafferty Park, which would crown the city much as the famous Mt. Tamalpais does for Marin County and Tilden Park does above the East Bay.
First is for the County to remove the artificial "roadblocks" they have created over the condition of the Lafferty Park road. "The Supervisors need only treat Lafferty the way they treat similar projects elsewhere in the County," said Bill Kortum, a well-known conservationist and former Sonoma County Supervisor. "In this case, some additional signs posting single lanes and lower speed limits, and perhaps some carefully placed speed bumps, would be all that's needed." Kortum points to Fitzpatrick Lane, a narrow twisting County road serving another recently opened public park, where the County has nothing more than a sign reading "One lane winding road, 15 MPH."
The second step is the purchase of Lafferty's development rights by the County Open Space District (OSD), at a price of "less than a million dollars, from the $23 million open space and parks funds already collected from South County taxpayers," said Friends' OSD expert Larry Modell. The OSD funding would enable the City to proceed with construction of a small crushed rock parking lot and some trails, allowing access to hikers possibly as soon as this Summer.
Rain or shine, hikers will leave from Putnam Plaza (park on the top level of the Keller Street Garage--7 mile hike) at 10:30 am. People can join the group at Deaf Dog Coffee/Washington Square (5.5 mile hike) at 11:30, Prince Park (4.5 miles) at noon, and the foot of Sonoma Mountain Road (3 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain) at 12:45. After a brief rally at the (locked) Lafferty gate at around 2:30 - 3:00, hikers will be shuttled back down to their vehicles. Because of their desire to keep the walk safe, legal, and fun, organizers ask that you RSVP by calling (707) 778-0629. For more information about the walk, see http://www.laffertyranch.org/events.htm
Friends of Lafferty Park (FLP) is a Petaluma-based volunteer organization supporting the City of Petaluma's plans for a wilderness park at the old Lafferty Ranch atop Sonoma Mountain. Their mission is "to develop, maintain, and improve Petaluma's Lafferty Park and enhance the experience of park visitors through volunteerism, fund-raising, and education." You can read more at www.laffertypark.org