By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Fundraising to keep Annadel State Park open has reached a tipping point, with Sonoma County Regional Parks now prepared to take over operation of the sprawling east Santa Rosa park on a day-to-day basis.
“I am in a position to move forward, to enter into an operating agreement with the state,” said Caryl Hart, regional parks director. “We have raised the bare minimum to keep the park open.”
Annadel is one of five of Sonoma County’s state parks and among 70 statewide scheduled to be closed July 1 as part of the state’s budget-cutting efforts.
Hart refused to disclose how much money has been raised through the Sonoma County Parks Alliance, a coalition of public and private groups, to keep Annadel open but said fundraising must continue.
It costs about $300,000 a year to operate Annadel, she said. The 4,000-acre park is a major draw for hikers, equestrians and cyclists.
She said the takeover from the state would rely on rangers, maintenance workers and staff from Regional Parks, along with some presence from the state, which will continue to own Annadel.
“We would have oversight, running day-to-day operations, charging for use, collecting revenue, coordinating with partners, have fundraising … we would be the lead agency,” Hart said.
The next step is to get an operating agreement approved by the county Board of Supervisors and the state parks department.
On Monday, VeloStreet, the nonprofit agency that owns and raises money from Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, announced $15,000 in matching grants for Annadel.
“From VeloStreet’s perspective, the importance is building a community in Sonoma County that invests in cycling resources,” said Greg Fisher of Bike Monkey, organizer of the GranFondo. “We have had this great cycling resource for years and now it is threatened. Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, our community benefits the more access people have riding bikes.”
LandPaths, a Sonoma County conservation group, also has received a $5,000 donation for Annadel, said Executive Director Craig Anderson.