Rezone for the SoHum Community Park: ‘Peacefulness of the natural landscape will continue to be the cornerstone’
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Letter from Southern Humboldt Community Park Board:
We believe the inherent beauty and value of the natural landscape is tied to our cultural history and weaves vitality and meaning into the fabric of our daily lives. The community has acquired 430 acres of meadow, forest and historic ranch structures alongside the Eel River to establish a regional park. Our goal is to create opportunities for recreation, culture, agriculture, education and celebration and to ensure the enjoyment of this rich, diverse land for generations to come and to conserve the Park’s scenic, historic and natural resources.
What is it about a community park that’s important to you? Having a peaceful place to get outside and enjoy trails for walking and jogging, biking or horseback riding? A place for community events, fundraisers and cultural gatherings? The possibility of youth outdoor education and sports leagues? How about Community farming and farming workshops? Wildlife and habitat restoration? What are your interests in the Southern Humboldt Community Park (SHCP) and how do you hope to participate in making the vision become a reality? These questions will be posed to community members once again, as the SHCP embarks on the next phase of public input and planning at the Park, in anticipation of approval for a rezone of about 80 acres of the 430 from exclusively Ag to Public Facilities with a Public Recreation overlay.
For too long now, the Park has been operating under a special temporary permit that allows folks to use the land for limited recreation activities (use of trails for hiking, biking, walking and horseback riding), small gatherings like birthday parties and the Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Even Tooby Park playground is only allowed through this special permit. These changes will establish a zoning that is consistent with the community’s expressed desires for a true community park with various recreation opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy.
The need for a rezone was initially recognized in 2002 when the land was acquired for public use. Through a series of public workshops Southern Humboldt community members expressed a whole host of ideas for their future Park including expansive trails for walking, biking and horseback riding, camping facilities, ball fields, visitor/local history interpretive center, restrooms, activity area for kids, athletic complex, skate park, dog park, areas to host private events, community events, and large events, housing, and even a swimming pool, a new hospital and senior housing! By 2009, through more public workshops and County government feedback, the list narrowed down to only a handful of park amenities that made sense for the land and surrounding environment. As these ideas would not be possible under current Agricultural zoning, the request for a zone change was initiated, as well as an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to describe the impacts of the zone change.
Through many years working with the County and multiple consultants, contracting numerous scientific and environmental studies, and organizing a lot of fundraising to pay for it all (HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS), the community’s request for a rezone will be considered for approval!
The Planning Commission Hearing is on
THURSDAY January 5, 2017 at 6:00pm
at the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers
Humboldt County Courthouse
825 5th St. Eureka CA, 95501
It’s been a long and winding road, but once the rezone is approved, it means the community can finally bring their vision for a multi-use park to life! It means the Park that we all cherish will continue to exist, as it will finally be viable as a financially self-sustaining public space. This is legacy making in the works!
The SHCP operates as a small non-profit organization with very little staff and a volunteer Board of Directors. Board members have the job of facilitating the health and well-being of the Park while trying to meet the needs of the community. The work we have completed in the last five years is the culmination of community input, as well as the input from consultants and agencies to fulfill the community’s intentions while insuring the highest environmental safeguards are in place. The EIR for the rezone addresses how to accomplish this balance, but in the end the EIR was written to include a variety of potential projects, hopes and dreams. We call on the community once again to provide input and energy to help guide the scale, impact, and design of new projects that work in harmony with the local watershed, ecology, and natural beauty of the Park and to balance new park features with the beautiful experience the park goers value today.
As Board members, we’ve learned a lot over the course of sixteen years working on behalf of the community to see this through. The CEQA process forced us to examine environmental impacts of a wide range of possible uses and new park features that would be allowed under new zoning. We now have a thorough understanding of what it will mean to maintain ball fields and continue to farm at the Park while balancing the fragile ecosystem and community needs of the Eel River watershed.
Through public feedback, we get that folks highly value their morning walks and strolls at dusk along the peaceful pathways and trails at the Park. The Park Board fully understands the concern that has been expressed by some community members, that their experience at the Park will be altered with the creation of new Park features, such as sports fields. We want to assure folks that we hold as priceless the natural beauty and serenity the Park embodies; we’re committed to preserving those qualities while still being able to offer recreation experiences for many different age groups and interests of our whole community. The peacefulness of the natural landscape will continue to be the cornerstone of our Community Park.
If you have a specific interest in the Park that you’d like to pursue or would like to join a committee, please let us know. You can always give us a call at the office, send an email, get your idea on a Board meeting agenda, participate in volunteer work days or join us for guided Walks in the Park. We not only look forward to working with community members on new Park projects, we absolutely need your help; this is your Park and we all have a part in making this happen.
To read more about the EIR and to download a copy of it please visit the link below.
To send your letter of support to the County Board of Supervisors, visit http://www.sohumpark.org/send-you-letter-of-support/
To get involved or be added to the Park email list email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , follow us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/Southern-Humboldt-Community-Park-214882805202034/
or call the office at: (707) 923-2928