Gold Ridge Elementary School, shuttered since 2008, is coming to life again thanks to a new agreement between the City of Rohnert Park and the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.
The school closed to students five years ago due to shifting enrollment and the expiration of the lease between the school district and the city. At one time, the site was considered for the Waldorf-associated Credo High School, but that never came to fruition.
But since that time, the buildings and grounds on the edge of Golis Park have lain fallow, and the forces of time have eroded its structures.
“Most of the buildings have been vandalized, with graffiti and vegetation overgrowth,” said Rohnert Park's community service manager Guy Miller. He said that Public Works has already done a lot of cleaning up the site, but “they'd need to do much more to make all of [the buildings] safe.”
However, the main building that served as a cafeteria and auditorium is in better shape, and has been already appropriated by the City for recreation programs.
Starting March 1, a cross-training class physical education started at the one-time school, and there are plans for a Youth Summer Camp and Youth Basketball program later this year.
The class, taught by Renee Robinson, is being held in the "Goldridge Recreation Center Multi Use Room" for ages 18 and up. It costs $50/month, or $60 include membership in the Callinan Sports and Fitness Center.
This class and possibly others will be announced in next edition of the City's Activity Guide, to be published on April 1. At this point you can register at the Community Center of by phone at 588-3456
City Manager Gabe Gonzales said, “The goal is to have recreation programs that generate sufficient revenue to offset 100 percent of costs.”
"It's way too early to determine what all those programs might be,” Miller said. “We just inherited the school about two weeks ago.” But he speculated that as well as stage and fitness programs in the cafeteria, the athletic field could easily be used for community sports such as soccer.
The City had leased the land to the CRPUSD for the school for many years, and the official statement, dated March 6, suggests the district “continues to reevaluate school locations and may at some point in the future wish to reopen the school.”
Superintendent Robert Haley said, “While we have a goal of increasing enrollment, we can meet our current needs with our existing facilities.” There are now five elementary schools in the district, and a new one, University Elementary, being planned in partnership with Sonoma State.
Nonetheless, added Haley, “We are pleased that the facility will be put to good use by the City.”
Specific uses of the Gold Ridge buildings and property are part of on-going discussions at City Hall, and recreational programs will be announced over the next several months as they are finalized.