August 29, 2005

The Town Meeting held last Wednesday evening provided an excellent way for the residents of Sunol and Alameda County officials to meet and discuss various issues and concerns. The meeting, held at the Sunol Glen School cafeteria, was hosted by Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele and was attended by officials from the county's planning department and public works department.

This was one of the most informative Town Meetings I have ever attended and I felt proud to be a part of the community. Just about every business and local organization was represented in the 50 or so residents which attended. Unfortunately I received notice of the meeting after I had already submitted my column so I was unable to announce the meeting.

Supervisor Steele opened the meeting with an introduction of the county officials and proceeded to address the concerns and questions from the community members present. Some of the issues, questions or concerns included, traffic controls on lower Kilkare Road, Main Street, Highway 84 and Calavaras Road; the proposed Apperson Ridge Quarry; the proposed compost dump station; building, zoning and conditional use permits; Measure D; train use; noise ordinances; Sunol Community Park maintenance and management; disaster preparation; flood zone designation; lack of fire hydrants; and the recent rash of suspicious fires in the area.

As the two hour meeting adjourned there was a round of applause of thanks to Supervisor Gail Steele and the county officials for coming out and listening to the community. Some of the residents in attendance left the meeting with a real positive feeling that their concerns were going to be addressed and resolved. It was also suggested that the Sunol Advisory Committee be involved with the Alameda County officials when addressing these concerns as well. And of course another Town Meeting will follow and I will definitely announce it well in advance.

Since July 26 there have been 10 fires, some of which have been labeled of "suspicious origin", along the Highway 680 corridor which runs directly though the Sunol Valley. The first of the series of fires occurred near Koopmann Road and the most recent fires, on August 21, were located off of Andrade Road.

Sunol's Department of Forestry Battalion Chief, Mike Martin, attended Wednesday's Town Meeting to address the citizens concerns regarding these fires. He said, "Any information we can get would be appreciated". Chief Martin also added that anyone in the community who sees a suspicious vehicle parked anywhere in the area, to make note of the color, make, model, number of occupants and best of all the license plate.

As I have said repeatedly, we live in a rural area but most of us know our neighbors and even know those who live within miles of us, so if you see someone or something that looks remotely unusual or out of place, please contact the authorities.

Signs have been posted in the area of Koopmann read which read "Arson caused fire. If you have information regarding this fire, call our anonymous hotline 800-468-4408".

There was also a heartfelt thank you and another round of applause during the Town Meeting for the California Department of Forestry. Several members of the community expressed their gratitude for their quick and strong response to the Koopmann Road fire, which also scorched the land surrounding the residents along Little Valley Road. In fact Sandy Bohner, resident and owner of Little Valley Vineyards, expressed her thanks to the fireman with four dozen freshly baked chocolate chip cookies which she delivered to their station. We are truly pleased to have the Department of Forestry as our neighbors and friends.

Tom Harland, one of the organizers of the town's hopefully new organizations, Sunol Area Residents Association (SARA), was on hand to remind and encourage folks to attend the meeting this coming Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunol Community Park.

This first meeting will be open to discussion as to how the Association would form and what goals do they plan on achieving. Some suggestions are, to focus on communication, discuss important issues regarding the town, and support civic and cultural activities. Organizers say this new Association "would not be affiliated with any existing group and would be open to all who live in Sunol". For more information please contact Tom at 925-862-2915.

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