The view from the Springs
In the spirit of our multi-cultural community, two Yemenis brothers have bought the iconic Fruit Basket produce stands from two Greek brothers.
After decades of owning and operating the Fruit Baskets in Boyes Hot Springs and Schellville, brothers Gus and Marco Dalakiaris are ready to retire. They have sold the produce stores to Joewad and Omar Homran. Marco, who managed the Boyes Hot Springs location on Highway 12 at Thompson, has been a community fixture often seen out front saying hello to customers. Omar is now managing the Boyes Hot Springs location. A friendly fellow with a big smile, he promised me the store would remain the same.
Little help for roads in the Springs
What we learned at the “Sonoma Valley Road Summit” doesn’t bode well for getting our neighborhood roads in the Springs fixed anytime soon. Sonoma County’s Director of Transportation and Public Works, Susan Klassen, along with Supervisor Susan Gorin and the two leaders of Save Our Sonoma Roads, Craig Harrison and Michael Troy, were the panelists at a public forum I put on last week exploring how Sonoma County’s roads became among the worst in the state and if it was possible to turn the situation around.
More than once Klassen made the point that, other than filling potholes, there is no money for maintaining neighborhood roads. She said, “County road maintenance priorities are based on providing the highest level of service to the most users. Roads that are regionally significant and qualify for federal funding are the priorities.”
Federal road funds can only be used on roads classified as collectors. The funding situation is made worse by the fact the amount of road money the county receives from the feds has declined from $4.5 million a year to $1.65 million a year.
The priority roads in the Springs are: Verano Avenue; Boyes Boulvard; Agua Caliente Boulevard; and Arnold Drive.
Klassen also told us that 751 of the county’s 1,383 miles of roads are in poor to failing condition. She said increasing asphalt prices combined with multiple years of inadequate funding have made it impossible to properly maintain the county’s roads.
Furthermore, how the state allocates its gas tax penalizes rural counties. Sonoma County has the most road miles of any Bay Area county, but the state doesn’t consider number of miles when it allocates the gas tax. The formula favors highly populated, urban counties where most of the cars are.
Supervisor Gorin said the Board of Supervisors has hired a consultant to do a thorough study of the county’s road system, the cost to fix it, and revenue options so a plan for maintaining the roads can be developed.
Sonoma Valley bike path
Sonoma County Regional Parks has proven that old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” After two failed attempts in 2011 and 2012, Regional Parks was successful in winning a $190,575 grant from Caltrans to conduct a feasibility study for developing a bike and pedestrian path between Agua Caliente Boulevard and Melita Road in Santa Rosa. I asked Regional Parks staff what they thought made the difference this time. Apparently, it was new Caltrans staff.
As Steve Ehret, Parks planning manager, said, “In prior years, Caltrans did not provide any constructive feedback to help improve our grant application. This time, new Caltrans staff provided comprehensive feedback to the prior year’s application. Regional Parks staff was able to re-write the grant application to meet the goals of the grant program.”
I hope Regional Parks’ experience is a sign Caltrans has adopted a new attitude.