Conversations, proposals and ideas about the future of the golf course property are surging in the valley. Golfers understandably hope to keep the course and continue to enjoy the clubhouse, bar and restaurant, while homeowners and realtors appreciate the property values enhanced by the landscaping and manicured lawns. Local agricultural entrepreneurs see an opportunity for organic agribusiness and a training ground for a crop of new farmers. Others see the possibility of providing homes for locals struggling with an affordable housing crisis. All of these points of view have merit and are part of the discussion.
What has been less heard are local residents’ various innovative ideas shared in private conversations, at social gatherings and on Facebook and other social media. Here are a few that are being tossed around. We don’t yet know which are feasible, but they should all be heard and considered.
A community garden. A garden already exists on the land, donated by the previous owners of the golf course and maintained by valley folks who grow flowers, fruits and vegetables there and share some of their produce with the community center’s food bank. We could expand this public garden and continue to provide it with water, rather than replacing it with commercial agricultural businesses that could require extensive irrigation and farm equipment.
A skate park. Young people in the valley have been advocating for a skate park for decades. This idea came up again recently at a community café hosted by the West Marin Coalition for Healthy Youth. Let’s try and make this happen for our kids.
Housing. We have a housing crisis in Marin. We desperately need permanent housing for senior adults, families and working people. Or what about a cluster of small homes on the site for staff housing, similar to what exists in other public parks? Could we also build a small number of tiny homes for single folks or couples somewhere on the land?
Wastewater treatment. Before the sale of the property, the owners were considering the possibility of a shared wastewater treatment facility to accommodate a county proposal that has been under consideration for homes in Woodacre and San Geronimo, where many septic systems need to be replaced. Can such a critical facility still be accommodated? Can the reclaimed water be used for irrigation, as previously planned?
A mini golf course. Not a miniature golf course, but a putting green and a small course with two or three holes. This could accommodate an educational program for young people wanting to learn the sport.
The fire station. Many folks have been talking about the possibility of moving the Marin County Fire Station in Woodacre to the golf course. It would be a better and more central location, right off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, instead of in the middle of a residential area. If the fire station were to move there, could we build small-scale, multi-generational community housing or cohousing on the fire station property?
A community facility for public use. The golf course’s beautiful clubhouse has been an important facility for parties, galas, weddings, memorial services and many public events all year. Can we keep this venue and continue to provide restaurant and catering services? Could this be combined with a training program for youth?
Salmon. We need to preserve the salmon habitat in the valley as much as we need habitat for humanity. I am a member of the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative, a countywide organization working to find common ground for the protection of the environment and the creation and preservation of community housing. These goals are not mutually exclusive; we must explore and create ways for them to support each other.
And what about a bocci court? A handball court? Roller-skating? What else? A healthy and inclusive decision-making process is absolutely essential as we go forward. All too often, the people who have an agenda and are well-organized are the ones who are heard, while the rest of us sit back in wonder, trying to figure out how to have our thoughts heard before it’s too late. I encourage us all not to wait, but to start writing to the Board of Supervisors, the Community Development Agency and the parks department and let them know what we would like to see happen at the golf course property. The county will facilitate a community process in which we will all have an opportunity to meet and speak about what we would like to see happen. We need to show up and be heard. And we need to show up and listen.
Finally, I hope that we can all be open-minded, avoid name-calling and acrimony, and move ahead with many of the possibilities that we want to see happen. Our ideas must focus on contributing to the greater good and the health and well-being of our beloved community, environment and people.
Suzanne Sadowsky has lived in the San Geronimo Valley since 1975, close to her daughter and grandchildren. After 20 years with the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, she retired in 2017 and currently serves on the boards of several valley nonprofits.