Walnut Park facelift continues

Walnut Park continues to get a makeover despite a lack of city funding thanks to a coalition of Petaluma nonprofits that has informally adopted the historic but run-down public space near downtown Petaluma.

The Petaluma Service Alliance has gotten permission to erect an 8-foot granite obelisk in the park that will bear the word peace in 12 different languages.

This is just the latest in a series of improvements that began last fall when Petaluma Valley Rotary installed a bench in the park in honor of Ron Flagg, a Rotarian and veteran who passed away in 2012.

At that time, Rotarian Maureen Frances took note of the need for other park improvements, such as painting old, chipped benches and replacing worn-out plantings with new landscaping.

She enlisted the Petaluma Service Alliance, a coalition of local service clubs that she helped to start.

In December, the group's sense of mission was heightened when the more-than 40-year-old memorial to fallen Vietnam Veterans was stolen from the park.

The loss of the bronze plaque galvanized community interest in the memorial and the park, and thanks to community donations, the plaque was replaced in May.

The service alliance re-painted benches and installed red, white and blue landscaping around the gazebo near the plaque.

The peace pole will also be installed near the new veterans' memorial. Granite for the obelisk and steel for the plaques were both donated by two Santa Rosa companies. Those donations total more than $5,000.

"The word peace is universally recognized, that's why we chose it," Frances said.

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