May 13, 2002

THE SUNOL BUSINESS GUILD Park Committee has been very busy and they'll not be resting anytime soon. The park acreage, which is owned by Alameda County, is leased by the Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA). The SBG, in turn, has a memorandum of understanding with the PLA to develop and operate the park. Got that?

Guild members and other community volunteers, with help from the county, started with a basic picnic and event area and a maintenance schedule. The guild made the park a top priority in 2000, and Jim O'Laughlin headed up the Park Committee. "One of the most significant aspects of this project," Jim said, "is that it has truly been a community effort."

Last year the SBG put over $10,000 into the park and has committed more than that for this year. "The guild has provided the funding, but the people in the community have done the work," Jim continued. Guild members who have volunteered many hours of labor, provided machinery and sought out affordable materials include Lorie Gronley, Bob Saia, Dimitri Kastriotis, Dan Williams, Dan Reasor, Bob Olsaski, Bud Hall, Ario Ysit, Bob Foster and Frank Fries. Jim cut the lawn for the first year and reported that the guild is looking for a permanent solution to lawn maintenance.

"Many people who are not in the guild have been very active and volunteered a great amount of time and talent," Jim said. "Robb Marshall, Tom Harland, Roy Livingston, Al Mason, Neil Davies, Randy Mills, Derek Johnson and Bill Foland have helped, among others." Other non-members, such as Sarah Mills, attended Park Committee meetings and contributed planning input and problem solving. Alameda County helped, too, drilling holes for the trees, bringing in crushed rock for the parking lot and removing debris.

The first major improvement was the lawn area, installed for the Christmas Tree Lighting in December, 2000. This required irrigation, which was then expanded to the rest of the park for landscaping. Over 2,500 yards of dirt were hauled into the park to grade it for drainage, and over 80 trees and over 80 roses were planted. "Our planting is limited by water," Jim explained, noting that water and electricity are currently provided by the PLA. A hard surface was then installed around the lawn to provide a clean, low maintenance area for tables and activities.

Current projects include relocating the supplies and equipment container to the lower parking area, replacing the old stage with a trellis structure; and continuing the walking path around the park perimeter. All of these projects are planned for completion prior to the annual Chili Cook-Off and Bed Races scheduled for October 6. And, of course, there's the ongoing maintenance.

"The Chili Cook-Off is our major fund raiser," Jim stated. "It has provided and will continue to provide funds for the development of the park." The guild also offers an opportunity to support the park through its Patrons of the Trees program. For a donation of $50, you can sponsor a tree and place your name or the name of a loved one on a plaque to be installed at the park entrance.

Jim recently became the SBG's president, and Dan Reasor has taken the helm of the Park Committee. "We are very grateful for all the help we've gotten and hope the support continues," Jim concluded. "Suggestions, questions, and opinions related to the park development are welcome." If you'd like to get involved, leave a message for Dan on the Business Guild's voice mail at 925-862-0472 and watch the town bulletin board for meeting notices.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The Save Our Sunol Memorial Day Service and Picnic is scheduled for May 27. The tuneful Debra Knox will fill the air with music once again, SOS will provide barbecued chicken, hotdogs and hamburgers, and y'all can bring a side dish to share. More details coming soon!

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