GE Forum focuses on citizen action
Glen Ellen’s Forum members have set their eyes on a range of local issues impacting the community, foremost among them the future of the sprawling Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), now practically deserted and in the process of becoming “surplus state property” as the institution’s clients will all be gone by the end of this year, and its health mission will be totally shuttered by the end of next June.
Forum members were encouraged to write letters to their state legislators urging them to push for outgoing Governor Jerry Brown to include enough money in next year’s proposed budget to properly care for the 945 acres of open space and aging campus buildings, including helping set up a new governing body, and perhaps permitting interim use of some of those buildings.
A petition to that effect has been circulating for a month and has gathered 2,100 signatures, according to the Forum’s SDC committee chair Alice Horowitz.
A worker knowledgeable about the project cleared up the mystery of who has been erecting cyclone fences at the SDC. They said the fences are being built with Homeland Security funds that were set aside soon after 9/11 in 2001 to fortify local utilities, and have nothing to do with any state plans for the property. It took a long time for those funds to get to Sonoma County, but the SDC’s water plant seems to be safe for the moment.
In another announcement relating to the SDC, Parent Hospital Association President Kathleen Miller said there would be several events celebrating the life and times of the century-old institution in coming months. Oct. 31 will witness the last traditional Halloween Parade at the SDC, expected to convene many past residents and employees as well as the few that remain on campus. The event is open to the public and Miller urged people to come in costume. Times will be announced.
There will also be a formal memorial for the SDC and its residents past and present at the Hanna Boys Center on Nov. 3, from 3 to 6 p.m. That is also open to the public.
The Forum now has a formal Board of Directors since the resignation last month of founding member Michael Furlong. Board members are Melissa Dowling, Tracy Salcedo, Leslie Vaughn, Angela Morgan, Jim Shere, Janie Soto, George Merrick, Rob Barnum, and Graham Hommel. Margie Foster and Poppy Darby share the treasurer role.
The members agreed to meet a half hour later in the future to allow parents more time to get home and attend to family business. Future meetings will start at 7 p.m.
Financially, the group could do with more donations, though future fundraisers are on the horizon. Residents were asked to purchase scrip cards at the Glen Ellen Market, which will provide funds every time they are used.
The Forum’s Shannon Lee and Larry Davis continue to explore the possibility of forming a Municipal Advisory Committee to expand the community’s influence on county politics. The committee researching that will make a broad report at the next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 1. They have been reaching out to Kenwood and nearby residential communities to see if there is interest in participating. The county’s other advisory body, the Sonoma Valley Citizen’s Advisory Committee, meets in Sonoma and has a boundary that ends at Pythian Road.
Nick Brown heads up the Forum’s Traffic Safety Committee that has been working to set up neighborhood emergency awareness groups, with the help of police and fire agencies. They will have an information and sign-up table at the 28th Annual Glen Ellen Village Fair, set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 14, in downtown Glen Ellen.