Contract approved to build Bayer Neighborhood Park and Gardens

Santa Rosa awarded a $5.3 million contract this week to construct a long-awaited park in the heart of the city’s Roseland neighborhood.

The City Council on Tuesday awarded the work on Bayer Neighborhood Park and Gardens to the low bidder, Diede Construction of Lodi.

The company expects to begin work on the agricultural-themed project in August and finish next year.

“This is a very special project,” Mayor John Sawyer said. “It’s a major asset not only for the neighborhood but for the community at large.”

Plans for the 6-acre park call for a large lawn, amphitheater, community pavilion, skate park, half-court basketball court, playground, and nature discovery zone. It also will expand the community gardens that have already taken root on the property, preserve an existing barn and construct a farm stand.

Parks Deputy Director Jen Santos called the features “pretty amazing for a neighborhood park.”

There used to be far more features packed into the site, but the city didn’t have enough money to pay for it all.

The first master plan approved by the city in 2011 following numerous community meetings featured several additional buildings that have since been stripped from the plan. These included a community hall, caretaker’s residence, two greenhouses, a garden pavilion and an office building for LandPaths, the non profit that has spent years building community gardens on the property.

Despite the plan’s scaled-back form, council members praised the design and investment in the Roseland community.

“It’s a big deal,” Vice Mayor Chris Coursey said. “This park has been waiting for this for a long time.”

The city acquired the former farm in 2007 at the height of the housing market for $5.25 million. Lacking the funds to build a park immediately, the city partnered with LandPaths to begin building community gardens and running educational programs aimed at helping neighborhood children, many of whom are low income, appreciate agriculture and healthy food.

The existing farmhouse, which some community residents hoped to save, will be demolished.

The project was scaled back in part because of restrictions that prevented the largest source of state grant funding, $4.8 million, from being used for the office and caretaker’s residence, city officials have previously explained.

Sawyer suggested people pay the site a visit before construction begins to get a feel for the “funk factor” that makes the current property so charming.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @srcitybeat.

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