Kenwood Press

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Letters to the Editor: 07/01/2020

Letters to the Editor

Support Jack London State Park

Dear Editor,

How lucky are we to have this one of a kind, beautiful place called Jack London Park right here in the middle of our valley?

In 2012, when the Park was scheduled for closure, a group of locals got together and became the first to manage a state park privately. This meant that we would receive no money from the state to keep the park open but depend on visitors and donations to keep the place running. As an early board member, I remember how inspiring it was to see the support this community gave to our park time after time.

The last few years have not been easy. Fires ripped through the valley but spared Jack London Park. Again, the community stepped up to the massive task of clearing land and reducing the fire danger. I honestly thought we dodged a bullet of the likes we’d never have to deal with again. Then came COVID. The park closed. We sheltered in place. It felt hopeless. At least with the fires, you could pick up a shovel or rake and do something. It was during this time that Mary, my wife, and I began to appreciate Jack London Park more than ever.

With the authorities telling us to wear a mask, social distance, and meet outside, visiting the park and hiking its trails became the best and safest medicine ever to reduce anxiety and elevate well-being. There is one word in our mission statement that is more important than ever, and that word is “Joy.” I want to take this moment to recognize that the success of this park, first and foremost, rests upon the incredible support we receive from you and our generous community. In these times of uncertainty and stress, I invite you to experience the mind-clearing “Joy” of Jack London Park.

Mike Benziger
Glen Ellen

Cyclists aren’t following agreement

Dear Editor,

I am reporting a personally disturbing and frightening experience of being clipped by a racing cyclist, who sped away without stopping or even turning to look at me on a narrow public pedestrian-only easement thru the property of The Villages at Wild Oak Association. The path is located between White Oak Drive in Oakmont and Timber Springs Drive in the HOA. Cycling along this easement, aka the footpath, as well as the entire HOA property is legally prohibited by the resolution of lawsuits between the HOA and City of Santa Rosa in 2007-2017.

I am a 73-year-old woman resident of that association since 2004.

I am recently afflicted with bilateral peripheral neuropathy of my lower limbs causing significant issues of ataxia, a technical term that describes the inability to walk straight. I am currently engaged in walking exercises. I generally walk with my husband, holding his arm for better control. That evening, I was walking alone and used an umbrella held horizontally at thigh level for better balance.

I am also bilaterally hearing impaired, so badly that I cannot hear much of anything without my hearing aids. As expensive and relatively new as my hearing aids are, they do not process very quickly or clearly. A cyclist shouting or mumbling “On your Right” or “On your Left” or “Heads Up” or whatever, are words that are not entirely and rarely clear to me. I also am easily startled by someone suddenly coming upon me unnoticed or yelling.

On Thursday, May 7 at about 5:42 p.m., I was walking alone along the footpath between the Catholic church at White Oak Drive and Timber Springs Drive. About halfway back from the church, I was walking as best I could along the middle of the path to keep away from the rough side edges that could easily trip me up. I heard a voice from the rear suddenly yelling out something indecipherable, then again immediately upon my left I heard him shout, “On your Right!” I was so startled, I turned instead to the left to see a fast-moving cyclist who suddenly clipped the umbrella from my left hand, hurting it in the process. He did not stop. He did not slow down. He did not turn around to look at me. He said nothing. Aside from him wearing a spandex-like suit, I cannot describe him in any detail… it all happened so fast.

I was shaken but moved on along the path onto Timber Springs Drive and encountered a Villages at Wild Oak HOA board member. While telling him of this incident, six other cyclists came through the community, cycling abreast covering almost the entire road width. Cycling traffic is happening with increasing frequency for the last two years.

The local community is not adhering to the order of the court regarding private property rights and pedestrian safety. A letter dated Aug. 14, 2017 by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition describes the judicial resolution prohibiting bicycling through The Villages at Wild Oak and states clearly that: “failure…to dismount and walk their bikes as pedestrians…will constitute trespassing.”

The safety and rights of pedestrians on the easement should be upheld. Cyclists need to walk their bikes through the community and join us as pedestrians.

Stephanie Batanides-LaVigna
Villages at Wild Oak

Support funding for public schools

Dear Editor:

At a time when our public school districts and county offices of education are being asked to do more than ever, we are facing the largest state budget cut of any public entity. This 10 percent cut is coming at a time when schools are facing the increased costs associated with opening this fall while COVID-19 is still a threat; for example: social distancing, rigorous cleaning regimens, PPE for staff and students, and special accommodations for students and teachers whose compromised immune systems makes it impossible for them to return to campus until a vaccine is available.

I and other school board members from the North Bay have met with legislators to discuss public education’s needs. However, we can’t do this alone. We need the advocacy help of parents, students, and community members who agree we should not sacrifice the quality of our students’ education to the pandemic.

The California School Boards Association has made specific requests to the legislature to help close the funding gap. Among them: place an emergency bond on the November ballot of at least $2 billion to fund public educations’ costs associated with the coronavirus crisis. This would include health and safety activities, and technology and Internet access for students.

Please contact your state senator and state assemblymember asking them to fund public education at the level necessary to fully support our students’ health, safety, and learning during this unprecedented time.

Gina Cuclis, Vice President
Sonoma County Board of Education
California School Boards Association Delegate

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