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Supporters celebrate Annadel Park

  • A large crowd attends a benefit breakfast for Annadel State Park at the new Lakeside Grill by the Spring Lake Regional Park swimming lagoon in Santa Rosa, on Sunday, July 1, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

On the day Santa Rosa's beloved Annadel State Park was to close because of budget cuts, supporters instead threw a celebration breakfast Sunday in recognition of the local effort that will keep it open for at least another year.

A jubilant crowd of about 250 people chowed down on bacon and eggs alongside the lagoon at Spring Lake, where talk centered on partnerships and fund-raising that spared the park - for now.

"It's a vital community asset, not only because it's healthy but it brings people together," said Deborah Willner of Santa Rosa, who was eating at a table with a half-dozen other mountain bikers. "It's really important that we keep that."

North Coast State Parks Spared From Closure

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Annadel had been one of 70 parks on a statewide closure list devised last year by officials in Sacramento as a way to close a multi-billion state budget shortfall. Sixteen of the parks scheduled to close Sunday were on the North Coast.

The pending loss of such cherished places galvanized Sonoma County's hikers, joggers, cyclists, equestrians and other park users who raised $200,000 to keep Annadel open.

In Petaluma, supporters raised $70,000 to run the Petaluma Adobe Historic Park that is a favorite for school field trips.

Other parks on the closure list included Sugarloaf Ridge State Park near Kenwood and Jack London State Historic Park near Glen Ellen. None closed because of similar fund-raising alliances that saved Annadel.

Annadel got another boost when the Sonoma Country Regional Parks Department agreed to assume responsibility for daily operations.

On Sunday, Caryl Hart, regional parks director, congratulated supporters gathered for breakfast, telling them their work was an exercise in love and community.

She said it makes sense for the community to take on Annadel, which borders the county's Spring Lake Park, because "plants, animals and even some humans" don't distinguish between the two.


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