Annadel name changed to Trione-Annadel State Park
Sarah C. Phelps
Honoring the late businessman and philanthropist Henry Trione, the California State Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to approve changing the name of Annadel State Park to Trione-Annadel State Park. Trione played an integral role in its preservation before his death in 2015.
It was a rare and momentous occasion, as the Commission has only been asked to approve changing the name of a state park three times in its 13-year history – and only one other time voted in favor of doing so.
“You really did change hearts and minds up here,” Chair Diane Wittenberg told the audience packed into the Flamingo Resort’s conference room on July 22. More than 30 people spoke in favor of the name change over the two-hour hearing. No one spoke in objection.
Among the audience members who spoke was Senator Mike McGuire who authored the resolution to add Trione’s name to the state park. The request received unanimous support in the state Senate and Assembly and formal endorsements from the Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “Annadel would not exist without Mr. Trione. It would have been homes,” said McGuire, referencing the Santa Rosa Lakes subdivision that had been proposed for the area in the late ‘60s. McGuire said the Trione family has offered to donate 100 percent of the money needed to change all maps, signage and other collateral to reflect the name change. This will come close to $20,000, according to McGuire. “This means not one dime of taxpayer money will be spent.”
Congressman Mike Thompson, along with historian Gaye LeBaron and many community members, spoke about Trione’s community focus, commitment, and generosity.
“I raised my two children in the park who are now ardent conservationists and hikers. Now I’m raising my grandson in the park, which is very exciting. None of that would be possible without Henry Trione,” said First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who lives in Oakmont.
Trione was born in 1920 in Fortuna and spent his childhood in the redwoods of Humboldt County. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley and serving as a naval supply officer during WWII, Trione moved his growing family to Santa Rosa in 1947. Trione established Sonoma Property Loan Co., which became Sonoma Mortgage, a firm that merged into Wells Fargo Mortgage in 1968. As Trione’s affluence grew, his influence grew, too. In 1960, he became a partner in the new Oakland Raiders football team. In 1961 he founded Empire College. In 1963 he became a part owner of Molalla Forest Products, which had a lumber mill in Cloverdale, a booming business providing lumber for new tract homes being built in Santa Rosa.
Around the same time, one of Trione’s fellow investors in the Raiders, Wayne Valley, was planning the Santa Rosa Lakes community on 4,100 acres of open land in the Valley of the Moon, formerly known as “Annadel Farms.” Santa Rosa Lakes would boast more than 4,000 homes, three lakes with beaches and boating, shopping and services, water supplies for the Santa Rosa aqueduct, two sewer treatment plants, and a population increase for the Santa Rosa area of 10,000 to 20,000 people. When the project failed over vocal opposition, and the market value for the property dropped from $9 million to $5 million, Trione and others established the California State Parks Foundation and acquired the property. Trione put $1 million of his own money into the deal, which was matched by private donations. Annadel officially became a state park in 1971.
At the beginning of the hearing, it seemed as if the commission was reluctant to approve a name change. Conflicting State Park department policies both “strongly discouraged” changing a park’s name and recommended commemorating individuals deemed “significant enough to merit such remembrance,” but also said those individuals should be deceased at least five years.
The commissioners complained that without clear guidelines their already difficult task was made even harder. The commission took the conflicting policies up later in the meeting.
Another brief acknowledgement was that the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, who trace their heritage to the Annadel area and the obsidian quarry there, suggested to state archeologist Steve Hilton that the commission should consider other historical names if the park were being renamed. They did not, however, have any specific name suggestions or a formal objection to the name change, according to Hilton.
Along with the name change, the commissioners expressed a desire to see an interpretive feature created in the park, highlighting Trione’s life and contributions, and hoped their decision moved that idea forward.
“It’s very clear that this park would not exist or be thriving without Mr. Trione’s hard work, dedication and love of the California state parks system,” said Commissioner Elva Yanez. As chair of the California State Parks foundation, Trione had a hand in preservation projects statewide, including Fort Ross State Historic Park, Old Town San Diego, and support of the Youth Conservation Corps.
McGuire said the Trione family and California State Park officials will be meeting in the next few months to figure out details. Changes to the park signage, maps and collateral will most likely take place by the end of the year.
“Trione’s legacy will live on with this name change,” said McGuire, “and we couldn’t be happier.”