Petaluma waterfront development plan unveiled

A plan two years in the making envisions the area surrounding Petaluma's rail depot as "a series of theatrical events" between downtown and the planned SMART commuter train station.

Unveiled recently before the city's Planning Commission, the draft report has been in the works since early 2011 and pulls together ideas and suggestions from a range of planning, transportation and economic experts, along with a committee of community members.

The plan is sweeping, forecasting tree-lined public spaces, a mix of uses and architectural styles and open walkways funneling transit riders to and from downtown, much of the activity oriented toward a sparkling blue Petaluma River.

Putting aside the fact that the river, a tidal slough, is most definitely not blue, the plan was met with enthusiasm from city planners, who for the most part welcomed it as a long-term planning model for responsible growth within the city's core.

The plan, as described by Dan Parolek, a principal with consultants Opticos Design of Berkeley, is meant to "engage the waterfront with a vibrant, urban new neighborhood and also visually connect back from the river to the station area very clearly and specifically."

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