A three-year, community-wide effort led by the City of Santa Rosa to rebuild Coffey Neighborhood Park culminated today with the reopening of the park to Coffey Park residents and release of a video that celebrates the park’s rebuilding journey. While a traditional park-opening ceremony was not possible amid COVID-19 concerns, the video celebration highlights a robust and expedited park redesign and rebuild project involving the collaboration and participation of numerous stakeholders. A host of neighborhood, community and school groups, for-profit and non-profit organizations and businesses, public entities at the federal, state and local level, and many private individuals all collaborated to re-imagine and rebuild the five-acre park, which was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire, the most destructive of the October 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires.
Background - Community Rebuild Process
Originally built by the City of Santa Rosa in 1986, the Tubbs Fire destroyed Coffey Neighborhood Park and claimed five lives and nearly all the homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood on October 9, 2017.
Efforts to rebuild the park began in early 2018 with meetings between the city’s Parks Division and the newly formed Coffey Strong neighborhood advocacy group, as well as the Santa Rosa Parks Foundation (SRPF).
While the City worked to secure funding from FEMA, Cal OES, insurance, and the City’s general fund, SRPF began community fundraising. Ultimately, approximately $3.3 million in funding from public entities, including contingency funding, and $580,000 in contributions from private sources was secured for the park rebuild project and public art project, with major contributions from Kaiser Permanente, Rotary, the City’s Public Art Fund, Measure M - Parks for All, and many individuals, businesses, and groups.
In Summer 2018, the City launched a neighborhood-focused park design process with the assistance of the Santa Rosa design firm Carlile Macy. A series of workshops were held, and surveys conducted, allowing Coffey Park residents, including students from Schaefer Charter School, to help create the park’s design and provide input on a concurrent public art project entitled “Wellspring” by Wowhaus.
The master plan for the project went before City Council at a public hearing in Spring 2019 and was approved; the plan featured two playground areas (ages 2-5 and 5-12), fitness stations, picnic areas, barbeques, pathways, pollinator/native garden, community corner, dog park, portable restroom, landscaping, turf, irrigation, two monument signs, shade structures, fencing, security lighting, bollards, boulders, and public art.
Park construction by Team Ghilotti, as well as installation of the public art project, was completed by late October 2020. Despite multiple delays throughout the park rebuild process, including impacts from additional wildfires in other areas of Sonoma County that diverted staff resources as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the three-year redesign and rebuild of Coffey Neighborhood Park was accomplished in a significantly expedited timeframe, which can be credited to the steadfast will, hard work, and collaboration of the neighborhood, community, and City.
Park Opening & Video Celebration
This morning, on October 28, 2020, the City of Santa Rosa opened the new Coffey Neighborhood Park to residents. While it may take a couple of days to completely remove the construction barrier that surrounded the park, entry has been created at each of the park’s four corners.
Concurrently, the City released a video celebration to mark the opening of the park. The efforts of the many individuals and groups involved in the park’s successful completion are chronicled in the video, which has been shared with the community on the City’s website at SRCity.org, and on its social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
While coronavirus concerns made an in-person celebration to mark the completion of the park project not possible, it was the City’s sincere hope and goal in producing the video to shine a light on—and celebrate—the remarkable resilience of the neighborhood and all of our Santa Rosa community that has been on display since the devastation of the Tubbs Fire and throughout the rebuilding of Coffey Neighborhood Park.