Committee working on a long-term plan to keep park open

After meeting the challenge of raising, in a short five months, the $70,000 needed to keep the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park from being shuttered by the state, the Save the Petaluma Adobe Committee is now tasked with recommending a long-term plan to sustain the historically significant landmark for years to come.

Originally, according to Philip Sales, chairperson of the committee's fundraising effort, the idea was to raise enough money to fund the state's continued operation of the park for one year, until June of 2013. That goal has been achieved, but the park's long term future is still in doubt.

Funds raised included a $35,000 anonymous contribution and a fundraiser that brought in about $7,000. The rest came from individuals and organizations.

"Although the initial goal of fundraising has been accomplished, ongoing philanthropy is likely to be part of the long term health of the park," Sales said.

While it was originally envisioned that two volunteer groups would develop financial and operational plans for the future of the park, Sales said that the group was unable to do that. Instead, a volunteer committee must now come up with a list of options for the future of the park and recommend one by August to the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association, which is the oversight organization for the committee.

Along with Sales, a former chief parks planner for Sonoma County Regional Parks, members of the committee include: Jim Carr, a former Petaluma Parks and Recreation Director; Susan Villa, former executive director of the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum; Katherine Rinehart, historian with the Sonoma County Library; civil engineer Steve Lafranchi; Petaluma businessman Tim Scheele; Julia Cox, with the state parks department; Jan Mandrell of the Petaluma Department of Recreation; and Supervising Park Ranger Vince Anibale.

Long term options under scrutiny during the coming months include:

n Continue fundraising, on a year-to-year basis, the $70,000 needed annually to fund the state's continued operation of the park;

n Develop an operational plan whereby an existing local non-profit association, such as the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association, would operate the park on behalf of the state, which would retain ownership of the property;

n Create an entirely new non-profit organization to operate the park;

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