With the first phase of transforming the former campground next to the Laguna de Santa Rosa at Sebastopol’s Village Park into a public park set to begin soon, City Council member Patrick Slayter proposed giving the new park a name to distinguish it from the residential portion on the west side of the property at the April 16th meeting. He proposed to honor the City’s long history with the Japanese American community by naming the new public park “Tamodachi Park;” the residential portion of Village Park would retain its name.

While the land next to the Laguna de Santa Rosa has been home to many different groups of people — from Pomos before European settlement, to  Filipino American migrant workers prior to World War II and Mexican American migrant workers until the City purchased the land a few years ago,” the nearby Nippon Hall was the center of local Japanese American community life before the Enmanji Temple came to Sebastopol in 1934. An early school had also stood near the old Pellini buildings.  Japanese Americans settled in and around Sebastopol in the late 19th and early 20th century, forming an important part of the local apple industry as farmers and workers, as well as operating a number of businesses in town. White residents embraced the Japanese American community more fully than in many places and helped protect the Enmanji Temple during World War II and steward ranches and homes during the internment. The City has also had a strong sister city relationship with Takeo City (formerly Yamauchi), Japan for many years.

Slayter’s proposed name means “friendship” in Japanese and the City Council agreed that it would be a fitting recognition.

The City is sending out a request for proposals for the improvements, which, according to the request reviewed by the Council on the 16th include “picnic tables, a short trail segment, and native tree planting. The plan intends to delineate the park area from the mobile home area with fencing and access improvements to protect the privacy of the Village Park residents. The improvements have also been designed so as not to conflict with Caltrans frontage improvements related to the pending Highway 12 bridge replacement project.

“Key improvements are as follows:

  • Removal of disconnected and other outmoded features in the former campground and ‘RV’ areas.
  • Native tree preservation and removal of dead limbs for safety purposes, and removal of several normative trees and hazardous trees under supervision of an arborist.
  • Removal of invasive plant species and native plant restoration.
  • Construction of a short looped trail.
  • Fencing and access improvements. Low fencing between the mobile home portion of the park and the passive day-use/former campground area is proposed to be provided so that park users are discouraged from entering the mobile home area. Fencing would also be installed across the mobile home highway frontage to improve aesthetics and delineate the property.
  • Benches, trash recycling receptacles, picnic tables. Flood resistant furnishings and materials are proposed to be utilized.