Coffey Park residents eager to get park back as community continues rebuilding from North Bay Fires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In Coffey Park, signs of a second spring following the firestorm are everywhere.

From new homes to thick grass and blooming poppies in the neighborhood park, which is still fenced and off limits in appearances, at least.

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"This is the first time I have been in the park since they had a Christmas party, here," said Kevin Ward while walking his dog through the foot-high weeds.

Like others in this neighborhood, he's impatient to see that as homes rise, this six-acre neighborhood fixture remains closed while the city expedites its resurrection.

"In today's world you do not build a park without a master plan," said Kristi Buffo from the Santa Rosa Parks department. They have the drawings.

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They have nearly $2 million promised from FEMA, and a half million dollar pledge from the Kaiser Foundation for what has become a $5 million project. FEMA pays only after the project finishes, a "use-it-or-lose-it" proposition.

"Why don't they save the money and put the park back the way it was?" asked Michael Williams who lives across the street. His family has a view of the park out their front window. "The houses are getting built. It is time to fix the park."

For the city, it's almost a no-win.

Santa Rosa Parks want input, and they know they would also face criticism if they didn't ask for input. Parks usually take three years.

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"In this case, we got it done in 18 months," said Buffo of the planning phase.

The new version will add a restroom and a dog park.

"The way it was laid out before it had everything a residential park should have," said Ward.

Now it will have a little more. It's good news in a neighborhood that has been through so much.

See more on the North Bay Fires.
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