For more than 10 years, residents of Graton have talked about creating a public park near downtown.
Thanks to the unstinting work of the Graton Green Group, a local nonprofit, that dream is coming true.
There will be an opening celebration for Graton Green, Graton’s only public park, on June 2 at 4 p.m. The event will include a community potluck, music and dancing, and speeches by local luminaries like Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and others. Elizabeth Herron will deliver a poem written especially for the Graton Green opening.
The park is a half-acre property located just off Graton Road, between Bowen and Edison streets. Located along the West County Trail, the park features pathways through small green lawns, edged with oak and redwood trees, and a tributary to Atascadero Creek, thick with willow trees, along its southern boundary.
In the future, park boosters plan to add more seating, a community garden and a bridge across the creek (or as locals call it “the critch”) leading to a strip of land they hope to acquire from the county.
Graton Green is also adjacent to Green Valley Village, a new development of 10 single-family homes, built by Orrin Thiessen.
Several residents of Graton began working on creating the park in 2007. They incorporated as the nonprofit Graton Green Group in 2010.
“We chose the name ‘Graton Green’ because we want to be stewards of the land and be the most conscientious as we can be to follow today’s ‘green,’ or environmentally conscious, standards,” HolLyn D’Lil, president of the Graton Green Group, said. “The name also hearkens back to the days when there were community greens or commons, land that no one owned in particular, where an errant cow might graze and where town festivals were held.”
In 2015, the group began working with Thiessen on an agreement to purchase the park property and to design the park’s recreational amenities.
“We’re thrilled that Graton Green is permanently protected as open space, which will be a benefit to those of us living in Graton now and for generations to come,” said HolLyn D’Lil, president of the Graton Green Group. “The opening of this park is the culmination of over a decade of hard work and dedication by our community, and we’re grateful to Ag + Open Space and Orrin Thiessen for helping to make our dream a reality. It’s a win-win.”
Sonoma County Ag + Open Space provided $103,124 in funding toward the acquisition of the property through its Matching Grant Program, and the Graton Green Group provided nearly $60,000, much of that raised through small local donations, to acquire the property and complete initial park improvements. Thiessen sold the land to the group at cost and provided much of the labor and know-how for the development of the park.
“This long-awaited park will provide a host of benefits to Graton residents and visitors alike,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, whose district includes the Green. “For the first time since the 1980s, individuals and families that live in Graton will have a public place to gather and play, and cyclists and pedestrians using the beloved West County Trail will have a rest spot between Sebastopol and Forestville.”
Hopkins said she’d like to see more innovative open space projects like Graton Green in the future.
“This is the type of creative public-private partnership we should continue to seek throughout the county to protect our open spaces and provide our community with opportunities to enjoy the outdoors,” she said.
The Graton Group invites everyone to the grand opening celebration on Sunday, June 2, at 4 p.m., at Graton Green, 3000 Edison St., Graton. The event is also a community potluck and includes music and dancing in the new water tower amphitheater. People are invited to bring a dish, plates and utensils, and a blanket if they want to sit on the new green. More details at gratongreen.org.