Despite a lack of funds and expert volunteers, work is expected to begin later this year on the repair and restoration of the south wall of the 105 year-old former livery stable housing the David Yearsley River Heritage Center in Petaluma's Steamer Landing Park on the McNear Peninsula.
Named in honor of longtime Petaluma Riverkeeper David Yearsley, who died last year, the long range plan is to restore and transform the building into an interpretive center in Steamer Landing Park. The historic building was relocated to the 10-acre park in 2004.
According to the center's mission statement, the purpose of the center is to "connect current and future generations to the history, resources and wonders of the Petaluma River and its adjacent sloughs, marshes and farmlands through the practice and teaching of maritime, agricultural and outdoor heritage skills." Among the specific goals of the center is improving river access, recreation, tourism and educational opportunities.
David Yearsley, 1946-2011
David Yearsley, founder and executive director of the Friends of the Petaluma River, died Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. Terry Hankins/Petaluma Argus-Co
David Yearsley stood on the deck of an old duck hubnting cabin on San Antonio slough, off the Petaluma River.
David Yearsley, the executive director of the Friends of the Petaluma river, takes a tour on San Antonio Creek in the Petaluma marsh.
Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat
David Yearsley enjoyed taking boats of all kinds on the Petaluma River. Facebook
David Yearsley and his wife, Elizabeth Howland, in a boat on the Petaluma River. Facebook
David Yearsley drives his boat past a group of sportsman's cabins which once housed World War II soldiers and then moved by barge to the Petaluma marsh in the 1950's.
Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat 2006
David Yearsley surveyed his tiny sportsman's shack on the Petaluma marsh he used during the duck hunting season and as a place to relax.
Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat 2006
In this 2005 photo, David Yearsley monitored Ellis Creek, which empties into the Petaluma River. At the time, he was working under the riverkeeper program, but a short time later he founded the Friends of the Petaluma River. Mark Aronoff/The Press Democrat
Since 1998, David Yearsley roamed the Petaluma River and its associated waterways, keeping a watchful eye over the environmental health of the river and its marshes.
Photo by Mark Aronoff/The Press Democrat 2005
In 2005, David Yearsley, then the riverkeeper for the Petaluma River, went ashore along Ellis Creek. Although his work for the previous seven years had been as a volunteer, he began receiving a stipend in 2005.
Photo by Mark Aronoff/The Press Demorat 2005
In 1998, Petaluma RiverKeeper David Yearsley gave friend Blair Cavanaugh,left, and daughter Marcelle Yearsley, right, a ride on the Petaluma River during a press conference to introduce the pollution patrol program. Mark Aronoff/The Press Democrat
In 2009, David Yearsley stood inside the historic livery stable that had been moved from D and First streets to McNear Peninsiula five years earlier. The old barn was subsequently transformed into the Petaluma River Heritage Center and is now the centerpiece of Steamer Landing Park. Terry Hankins/Petaluma Argus-Co
In April of 2009, David Yearsley held a piece of the Petaluma Riverc Heritage Center building in Stemaer Gold landing Park that had blown off in a recent wind. Yearsley spearheaded efforts to raise money to protect the building, a former livery stable, from the elements and vandalism.
Photo by Terry Hankins
Elizabeth Howland and David Yearsley attended an open house for the Petaluma River Heritage Center on Sunday, April 5, 2009. Chris Samson
In 2010, David Yearsley, left, accepted a proclamation from State Sen. Mark Leno, right, recognizing the Friends of the Petaluma River on the organization's fifth anniversary. Facebook
David Yearsley, with his wife, Elizabeth Howland, attended the second annual Rivertown Revival in Petaluma on July 30, 2011.
Clementine Eco Events/Facebook
The focus right now is just on getting the permit to do the work, said J.T. Wick, chair of the Friends of the Petaluma River board of directors, the volunteer group responsible for the center's development under a 2009 cooperation agreement with the city.
On Tuesday, the Planning Commission approved an application to restore and replace the siding, windows and doors on the south wall of the building.
"You can put your hand or foot through parts of the wall. This is the worst part of the building. If we can get it water tight then we are ahead of the process," Wick said.
The project will use salvaged wood and windows and will replace lights and doors now missing. The plans also calls for the reintroduction of a cornice that shows up in photos of the building from 1908.
Originally, Petaluma Rebuilding Together, a local non-profit volunteer organization that does home repairs for the needy, had agreed to assist with the project with the help of skilled volunteers. Work was supposed to begin on April 21.
But that's not going to happen, according to Jane Hamilton, Petaluma Rebuilding Together executive director.
"It's just not something we can so right now," Hamilton said. "We've just taken a $250,000 funding cut with the loss of redevelopment &#8230; so we are focused on our own funding to provide services to those who depend on us."