Former family farm, purchased for $5.25 million, 'first major park in the area in a decade'

For more than 40 years, a small family farm on Roseland's eastern edge was home to a prune orchard, cows, sheep and 1,500 chickens.

Now, the 5.5-acre former farm off West Avenue, one of the last vestiges of the southwest area's agricultural roots, is about to be converted to a city park.

The land, inherited by sister and brother Irene and Edmond Bayer following their father's death in 1966, is being purchased by the city for $5.25 million.

"It's going to be the first major park in the area in a decade," said Assistant City Manager Marc Richardson.

Over the past decade, the area has become a hotbed of annexations and residential developments. But it has no large parks, largely because the city lacked the money to buy and develop the necessary land, Richardson said.

Currently, Santa Rosa has 519 acres of parkland spread throughout the 41-square-mile city ranging in size from tiny-tot lots to 20-acre community parks. Only 40 of those acres are in the southwest, which has generated increasing criticism from southwest residents about the city's priorities.

The purchase of the Bayer property with the aid of state bond and local open space funds is a major step forward, Richardson said.

It likely will include a community garden as a reminder of the area's agricultural history.

Preserving a vestige of the family farm pleases 81-year-old Edmond Bayer, a retired veterinarian, and his sister, 86-year-old Irene Bayer, a retired Sonoma County employee.

Their father, a former head waiter at San Francisco's Palace Hotel, bought the property in 1943 and relied on farming to make a living after retirement.

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