Construction on Sunrise Park hits ground running

A new all-weather, multi-use sports field is being constructed in Rohnert Park, replacing the Sunrise Park field on the corner of Rohnert Park Expressway and Snyder Lane. 

Construction of the new field officially began in September 2018 with the design being planned out for nine months beforehand. The field has an official deadline of December 2019, but the city council expects the field be done by this June. 

Rohnert Park Mayor Gina Belforte is ecstatic about the project and cannot wait for the community to take advantage of it, especially with the field supporting various sports such as soccer, rugby, lacrosse and football when there are hardly any other turf fields that the community and school teams can play on. 

“My son played lacrosse and they were getting kicked off of fields left and right. The school district wouldn’t let them play on their turf field because they thought the head of the lacrosse sticks were going to tear up their turf field,” Belforte said. 

Costing $2.5 million, the field is being funded by Sonoma Mountain Village (SOMO), a  $1 billion, 200-acre, adaptive-use redevelopment, and is being worked on in collaboration with the city and contractor O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. 

Sunrise Park, the $2.5 million project funded by SOMO, will feature an all-weather turf and be available to Sonoma State clubs.

Sunrise Park, the $2.5 million project funded by SOMO, will feature an all-weather turf and be available to Sonoma State clubs.

Construction of the all-weather field was supposed to be built a decade ago at SOMO, but the economic recession caused delays in construction projects. There was also a population of tiger salamanders identified in SOMO, so the cost to mitigate the project to protect the salamanders would have been too difficult. 

“There were some challenges getting started, mostly related to the recession. The developer just wasn’t moving on the same schedule that he was anticipating because of the downturn in the whole regional economy,” said Rohnert Park Developmental Services Director Mary Grace Pawson. 

Despite these challenges and several extensions on the project, development of the field is going smoothly and is well ahead of schedule. 

According to Belforte, the new field will have brand new lights along with a scoreboard and bleacher seating. The community parks are places of beauty in the city, so Belforte wants to make sure that she and the rest of the city can keep them in great shape. 

After the developers construct the all-weather field, the city will come in and make accessibility improvements to the parking lot as well in order to be compliant with the most current Americans with Disabilities Act standards. 

“I know the city is really looking forward to having this asset available for the community. It’s important for soccer leagues and lacrosse leagues,” said Pawson. “We are not able to accommodate as much play time as our various leagues would like because we don’t have an all-weather field.”

The field will only require maintenance about two to three times a year for the infill material since it already has a fairly sophisticated sub-terrain systems that allows water to move off of the field quickly. Regardless of the weather conditions, sports teams will have the opportunity to play on safer and cleaner ground. 

The field will hopefully draw a lot of attention from the community and there will be criteria for setting up time frames and dates to use the field for practices and games, according to Belforte. 

However, even though local club and school teams will be allowed to use the field, there has been no official agreement with Sonoma State University athletics being able to use it. 

“I think this is more designed for the public, but I’m sure if Sonoma State wanted to have a conversation and see if it is something that they could utilize, then they would kind of have to fall into that criteria of use, when they would be using it and when it would be available,” said Belforte.

Regardless, Beforte says that this is a huge step in the right direction for the community and for many to realize the joy that the city’s parks can bring. She hopes that in the future more parks for various ages can be constructed with a “wow” factor to them. 

Whether it is boulders with stairs and climbing structures or putting in bocce ball courts in areas with more land, the possibilities continue to grow. Since the city will also be getting $400,000 every year over the next decade for their park budget, this will hopefully help them reach their goal into giving back to the community. 

Belforte says that she and the rest of the city could be really looking at the rest of their parks and come up with ideas to make something spectacular. The new field is just the start of it.

“This is the community’s tax dollars, so we would like to do something really special that the community could all use,” said Belforte. “So that’s kind of what we are looking at. Stay tuned.”