Commons to lose tables as working group hopes for stable, local future

David Briggs
SPACE: Alex Porrata ferried children around the commons on Saturday during an annual lemonade sale that raises money for childhood cancer research. The future of the commons is the focus of a new working group. Page 2.  

The commons on Point Reyes Station’s main drag that’s been used for community events since 2011 attracts hordes of visitors to its picnic tables and well-maintained grounds. Now, it is facing an uncertain future: its lease expired last year, and the group that oversees it is at loggerheads with the landowner, Maggie McDonogh. (She did not respond to a request for comment.) Randall Fleming, chair of the village association’s design review committee, said the original purpose of the lot has been missed. “It’s a gathering place, and no one had thought that it should be a place that emphasized picnicking,” he said. “We’re trying to get back to that point.” Mark Switzer, board chair of the West Marin Commons, the nonprofit that leases the space, said the group asked Supervisor Dennis Rodoni to assist in negotiating a new lease; previously, the group had a three-year lease set at $750 a month, but it now operates on a month-to-month basis at $850 per month. The grounds and the Little Yellow House located there have been useful in dozens of community events—Mexican Independence Day celebrations, fundraisers for the Tomales Bay Youth Center and art shows and sales, to name a few. But recently, complaints about overflowing trash cans and overcrowding by tourists have grown. At the suggestion of Supervisor Rodoni, the Commons established a working group with representatives from the Point Reyes Station Village Association and local business owners, with the goal of developing a management plan for the site. That plan is underway, and Mr. Switzer said the Commons welcomes community input—either through the organization’s website or at a community event they plan to host later this summer. For now, the working group has decided to make some summertime changes to the park, where trash and recycling receptacles can fill to the point of overflowing on weekends. Mr. Switzer said five picnic tables will be removed from the property for a period of time, trash on the site will be monitored daily and new signage will inform visitors of other picnic facilities in the area. “In many ways, we want to get back to where it is more usable and accessible to locals, and not have it so inviting to tourists,” Mr. Switzer said.