Petaluma River Park will be a publicly accessible outdoor space within walking distance of downtown Petaluma. The location, on McNear Peninsula, surrounded by the Petaluma River, necessitates programing that is ecologically sensitive and supportive. As such, in addition to providing pathways, picnic areas, and other facilities needed for a successful public park, significant habitat restoration and erosion control will need to be undertaken to bring this landscape back to full health.
We have a four phase plan to realize the vision. Some aspects of the phasing will be concurrent or on a parallel track as funds and conditions allow. The goal is to be up and running as soon as possible and at full speed in five years.
Phase 1 will focus on bioengineering and habitat restoration. This means building on the proposed McNear Peninsula Habitat Restoration Project as laid out in the Central Petaluma Specific Plan. The City of Petaluma and groups like Friends of the Petaluma River and Petaluma River Access Partners are representative of key stakeholders to include as we work toward revitalizing the property. The restoration will be accomplished through a combination of private fundraising, grant money, and volunteer efforts.
Phase 2 will begin once initial work on habitat restoration and master planning is underway. During this section of the work, we will establish walking paths and introduce infrastructure like seating areas, picnic tables, access to drinking water, and restrooms. Once these basic facilities are in place, we will design and build informational kiosks and begin work on a way-finding system, and educational and interpretive signage. This will allow the public to better understand the restoration process and specifics about plants, wildlife, and land stewardship principles.
Phase 3 will introduce art into the landscape. Huru, a significant sculpture by the internationally renowned artist Mark di Suvero will be brought to the south-eastern edge of the property. Huru was built by Mark and his team at his Petaluma studio. It will be on long-term loan from a local family. Huru will anchor future art-related activities at the park in that it will attract other artists and appreciators to the site. As the landscape grows and changes, so will the art. It will be a high quality, low volume approach. Eventually, the park can support other art forms and a diverse population of local and non-local artists and viewers. The addition of an amphitheater will allow us to include performance opportunities.
Phase 4 will focus on public outreach. With the establishment of pathways, signage, seating areas, and basic facilities, we will be able to invite school groups to visit the park and begin connecting the project to their curriculum. We will initiate docent-led tours as well as volunteer and stewardship opportunities, inviting participants to become active partners in the project. We will also welcome passive recreational uses such as kite flying, small craft docking, picnics, dog walking, informal field games, hiking, and bird watching. Some will come for the views, some for the art or exercise. Whatever the reason, we hope to build a multi-layered opportunity that serves us all and preserves this stunning piece of land in our hometown.
REFERENCE FOR SOLUTIONS TO PROTECT AND RESTORE MCNEAR PENINSULA
* Images borrowed from the City of Petaluma: McNear Peninsula Habitat Restoration Project and Petaluma River Access and Enhancement Plan