Coffey Park marks beginning of work to replace neighborhood’s sound walls

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A half-dozen men used a system of pulleys and levers Friday to guide 20-foot-wide sound wall panels down to the sidewalk on Hopper Avenue in north Santa Rosa.

In about a month’s time, the eight-foot-tall panels will be the foundation for nearly 3,000 linear feet of walls that will once again provide a buffer for 42 homes on either side of this east-west thoroughfare traversing Coffey Park.

“It’s getting back to normal, once the wall is built,” said Greg Kuzmicki, who has lived at the corner of Starview Court and Hopper Avenue for a quarter century.

The city neighborhood reduced to a charred debris field by the Tubbs fire in October 2017 is now a cacophonous construction zone.

Its returned residents are increasing in numbers by the month as homes are finished, but they’re still outmatched by the sights and sounds of the massive rebuild.

Kuzmicki and his wife, Alice, moved back onto their land and into their rebuilt home about three months ago.

Friday, Kuzmicki was outside rebuilding the pond they had in the yard when he walked across the street to watch the workers put the first wall panels in place.

The wall is a “big deal,” he said, adding it will allow the couple to once again start enjoying their yard. They’ll have peace of mind when they open the door and release the four dogs, without worrying they’ll run into the street.

“There’s a lot of anticipation for this wall,” Kuzmicki said.

The Kuzmickis were among 42 property owners who signed onto a plan to replace the barriers after the learning, to their shock, that they collectively owned the damaged walls and were on the hook to replace them.

It has been an expensive and complicated task, orchestrated by the Coffey Strong neighborhood group, with help from the Rebuild NorthBay Foundation.

A $450,000 donation from Florida-based debris removal company AshBritt Environmental made the project possible.

Friday, crews started placing the first panels built from a steel-truss and foam system.

The wall will be covered with concrete and a stucco coat and will come with columns.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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