Assessment underway for SDC: A five-year look at Eldridge grounds, buildings

May 15, 2017:

Wallace, Roberts and Todd, a large planning and design group with offices in San Francisco and Philadelphia, was awarded a $2 million contract to assess the buildings and lands of the Sonoma Developmental Center, with an eye to future use. Known worldwide as WRT, the firm is prominent for tackling big projects – like a development plan for lower Manhattan, post-Katrina New Orleans, the Adobe campus in Utah, and large, urban planning projects worldwide.

At stake is the future of the extensive lands and aging structures at the institution, which has served the developmentally disabled and mentally ill since it was built in 1883.

The contract between the California Department of General Services (DGS) and WRT was signed in mid-April and the first meeting of state, local and WRT principals will have taken place by the time you read this. By law, the DGS oversees the disposition of all state-owned lands and properties.

First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, the Sonoma Land Trust (SLT), the Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), the Parent Hospital Association (PHA) of SDC, and several other groups formed the SDC Coalition in 2012 to both monitor the transfer to private care of the Center’s medically fragile population, and to prepare for the future disposition of the land, situated in the heart of Glen Ellen.

John McCaull is the land acquisitions manager for the Land Trust, and spokesman for the SDC Coalition. He will be working closely with WRT.

“This is a first step,” McCaull said. “It’s the start of something big.” He expects a public meeting will be scheduled by the end of May or early June. “It’s wonderful to see the state come at this with a comprehensive approach. They are not low-balling this.”

The Coalition initiated the TransformSDC project in 2015 to make sure local voices play a role in the disposition of the property, focusing on preserving the site’s natural resources and open spaces.

Follow this link to read more.

Provided courtesy of the Kenwood Press, by Jay Gamel.

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