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Park planned for apartment project south of Coddingtown mall

Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:28 a.m.

The developer of a proposed apartment complex south of Coddingtown mall is planning to spend $1.1 million to build a 2.7-acre city park adjacent to the project.

The Wolff Co. of Scottsdale, Ariz. has approval to build 270 apartments in a 15-building development called Range Ranch.

It is the largest apartment project proposed in Santa Rosa in years and a sign of the strength of the rental housing market. Construction is anticipated to begin this summer.

One of the city's requirements was that the developer build a park at the western edge of the 11-acre property, an island of pastureland at the intersection of Jennings and Range avenues.

The area south of the mall between Highway 101 and the rail line has long been identified as lacking enough parks for the growing number of residents in the area.

A master plan for the yet-unnamed park has been completed with input from neighbors. The plan heads to the City Council on Tuesday.

Major features will include a dog run, community garden, fitness trail, playgrounds, barbecue area and large open grass area.

Many residents who submitted suggestions to Carlile-Macy, the firm designing the park, expressed a desire for a public space that was attractive, peaceful and low-maintenance. Some suggested no bathrooms be included to discourage homeless people from congregating.

Others expressed interest in helping manage the community gardens, which are considered an asset particularly around areas of higher density housing, said Curt Nichols, a landscape architect and vice-president of Carlile-Macy.

"That's not something that's traditionally been in neighborhood parks, but I think it makes a lot of sense," Nichols said. "Giving people space to grow some vegetables and interact with their neighbors is a good thing."

An early version of the plan set aside approximately a half- acre as wetlands, but they were eliminated after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded the area was not true wetlands, Nichols said.

The plan calls for the preservation of several existing oak trees and the planting of dozens of new trees. One tree that won't be saved, however, is an approximately 250-year-old valley oak that will have to be removed because is it in danger of major limb failure, said Lisa Grant, the city's parks superintendent.

"The likelihood of the remaining upright portion falling is very high," Grant said.

The agreement with the city also calls for the developer to make a one-time payment of $100,000 to help the city maintain the park. The park must be completed before the city will allow occupancy of the final 40 units of the development.

The community design process began Dec. 19 when about 13 residents attending a meeting at Whole Foods in Coddingtown mall. Several additional meetings focused on park design and issues such as the type of playground equipment that should be installed.

Some neighbors suggested additional crosswalks to make it more convenient for pedestrians to cross Range Avenue to reach the park. But the design team concluded that a single crossing at the intersection of Range and Jennings avenues would be safest.

Some of the proposed park names include Finali Park, in honor of the family that has owned the land for years, Codding Station, Jennings Community Park, Free Range Park, and Peace Park, among others.

The Board of Community Services is expected to make a decision on the name May 22.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. OnTwitter @citybeater

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