As public health officials crafted the first shelter-in-place order that would shut down our daily lives, Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins pushed to carve out the county’s multitudinous parks and open spaces as a dose of tranquility for residents seeking to decompress amid the daunting crisis.
She also sought to make the county’s parks free.
But following a weekend rush of visitors to those same parks and beaches, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase ordered them shut, joining surrounding counties that had enacted the same, strict move.
Even then, when so little was known about how the coronavirus, or how COVID-19 would spread among North Bay residents, Hopkins, now the Board of Supervisors chair, was worried about the longterm effects of such a shutdown.
“I appreciate that it was a difficult decision to close our entire parks system,” Hopkins said during a March 24 Board of Supervisors meeting. “I worry about the unintended consequences.”
As with the county as a whole, Petalumans struggled to cope with shuttered parks, which only this January started to resemble the parks we’ve come to know and love, with trails and pathways, restrooms, sports fields, courts and most playgrounds finally being declared safe for resumed use.
The great thing about Petaluma’s dozens of parks? They’re all free!
For residents who sought solace in open spaces, at shaded picnic tables or in the shadow of playgrounds filled with laughter and fun, Petaluma’s parks have been a reprieve. But they’ve also offered an important reminder about the sanctity of communal spaces.
As more of us get our vaccinations, and the need to isolate winds down along with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re offering a hearty endorsement of the city’s parks. And just last week, we published a first-of-its kind guide to all of Petaluma’s parks, and we encourage everyone to take a look and find the right park for you. See a digital copy at petaluma360.com under the Parks Guide tab at the top of our homepage.
Here’s some of what you’ll find inside:
The Miracle League’s Lucchessi Park, which offers a place for every child to play, regardless of abilities, is one of our favorites.
Backed by area moms, Lucchessi is literally a kids’ dream come true. Local children were asked to draw their dream playground, and organizers did everything in their power to bring those dreams to life. The result – a colorful, inclusive play environment – is worth the trip to 320 N. McDowell Blvd.
Rocky Memorial Dog Park, which calls an industrial area off South McDowell Boulevard home, is situated in a wetland oasis for birds and other wildlife, and offers nine acres of trails and plenty of open space for frisky dogs.
It can be a muddy mess, but we’d take that in a heartbeat amid our current drought.
Leghorns Park, at 690 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, offers something for everybody behind the Safeway shopping center. Play equipment ranges from the mild (built for teetering toddlers) to the wild (steep slides that would make even the most roller coaster savvy parent grit their teeth).
Helen Putnam Regional Park and Tolay Lake Regional park are county-owned, but represent some of the best that Petaluma has to offer in terms of open space, views and rolling countryside. Not to mention hiking, biking and horseback riding.
Steamer Landing, centrally located and with views for days, is home to popular events like Rivertown Revival. Although the future of large-scale events is still on hold, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying Petaluma’s parks in the meantime.
Our parks are truly a treasure, and we can’t wait until we’re again using them to their fullest.