Saturday, April 9, 2016

Old Courthouse Square Civic Engagement, Last Round


A couple of months ago, those planning the reunification of Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square revealed their plans.  Most complaints focused on the removal of some redwood trees and the addition of parking spaces.

This week, another design was revealed, and the planners are again asking for comments.  Though no public meetings are being held before it is voted on at the City Council, you do have an opportunity to send in comments and questions which will be forwarded to the Council.  Here is some information on that.

Revisions to the Master Plan for the Reunification of Courthouse Square
The Master Plan showing the design features to be built into the Reunified Courthouse Square is being revised.  The design team of Carlile-Macy, has been busy making refinements to the design of the interior improvements for the Square. Revisions to the Master Plan are being proposed for Council approval.  The proposed changes are minor in nature, and generally relate to changes in placement of various features.  Changes to the Master Plan include:
  • The new site of the Asawa Fountain will be in the south end of the Square near Third Street and the public art space area will be in the north end of the Square.
  • The shade trees have been better distributed and relocated to accommodate various design features, and will be planted in a staggered alignment throughout the tree areas.
  • The location of the accessible parking space on Hinton Avenue has been placed closer to Third Street. The accessible parking space on Exchange Avenue has not moved.
  • Information kiosks that will also function as small storage buildings have been added at the south end of the Square.
  • Locations have been identified for the various commemorative plaques and time capsules currently in the Square.
  • The plaza paving has been revised to allow use of colored concrete.
Comment on the Revisions – We want Santa Rosa residents to view themselves as part of the team helping to reshape Courthouse Square.  The Square is the heart of our City and as such, you are part of this endeavor.  We want to know what you think about the proposed revisions to the Master Plan for the Courthouse Square Reunification Project.  Please click a button below to submit a comment or a question by Friday, April 15, 2016.  You may also submit comments and questions by calling Carlene Okiyama, Senior Administrative Assistant at (707) 543-4284.

City Council Meeting on April 19, 2016 – At the City Council Meeting on April 19, we will present your comments to the Council, along with the proposed revisions to the Master Plan, for their approval.  The Master Plan changes and any other direction given by the Council will be incorporated into the construction contract.  The construction contract is also proposed to be awarded by the Council at this meeting.
Construction Activity Schedule – The City opened bids for the construction of the Courthouse Square Reunification Project on March 30.  The bid results are available online.  Construction activity is expected to commence in late-May and be completed by mid-November.  You can track the progress of the project and subscribe for email updates at

Here are my comments:

Response to the Revised Courthouse Square Master Plan
Thanks for the chance to ask questions by Friday, April 17th on the changes to the Old Courthouse Square Master Plan.  I brought out my copy of the Master Plan distributed last week at the CAB Board meeting, and compared it to your new version.

Here are the changes I see:
·      18 fewer trees, with a huge shift from flowering accent to deciduous shade trees.  The previous version had 117 new trees, with 53 flowering accent trees, and 64 deciduous shade trees.  The new version has 12 flowering accent trees, and 77 deciduous shade trees.  Looks like you chose to lose the color.
·      102 fewer bike parking spaces.  The previous version had 120 spaces, the new version has 18. 
·      The elimination of all moveable furniture (16 pieces).
·      The elimination of four picnic benches.
·      The addition of hydration stations in the map key, but I can’t find any on the map.
·      Though there seems to be a designated area for children, it’s located amidst a cluster of trees, and the circular surface designation has been removed.
·      The four large trees with circular benches in the center of the Square have been reduced to small trees with circular benches, with indications that this is a future addition.
·      Moving the color-changing LED lights from the middle of the square to the ends of the pedestrian and vehicle passageways, tripling the number of them, and indicating this is a future addition.
·      As you did indicate, the northern and southern fountain and art space have been swapped.  And the handicapped parking space has been moved from in front of the existing restaurant, and placed in a distant isolated corner space.
·      You also indicate changes to the ground surfaces, most of which seem to be various types of concrete. 
How do you think these changes make the square a more inviting and pleasing environment?