SLT in the News

Land Trust continues Rockville Trails Estates fundraising drive

Author: Barry Eberling - Daily Republic
Date: Nov 02, 2011

Solano Land Trust Executive Director Nicole Byrd walks through part of the 1,170 acres of Rockville Trails Estates. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic file)

FAIRFIELD — Donating $1 million to the effort to establish the proposed 1,500-acre park at Rockville Trails Estates in the hills above Suisun and Green valleys will also buy the right to name the park.

Other naming opportunities are available as well. A $250,000 donation will buy naming rights for a knoll that is the highest point on the property and provides sweeping views.

For those with smaller budgets, $5,000 will name a picnic table and $500 will get a mention in a donation recognition area to be near the park’s entrance.

Such donations would not only put names on the park and its features, but help make the park a reality as well. The Solano Land Trust is amid a drive to raise $10.5 million to buy the remaining 1,170 acres of Rockville Trails Estates from a developer who could otherwise build homes there. The Land Trust earlier this year bought 330 acres of Rockville Trails Estates for $3 million, but wants to protect the entire 1,500 acres.

The nonprofit group on Monday signed a notice that officially commits it to try to buy the remainder of Rockville Trails Estates. One of the conditions of the contract is to make reasonable efforts to raise the needed money by Feb. 28, 2012. The Land Trust is putting up a $30,000 deposit, Land Trust Executive Director Nicole Byrd said.

Byrd sees a penalty beyond possibly losing $30,000 should the fundraising drive fall short by that deadline. Instead of a park on the remaining 1,170 acres, a development with 185 homes could be built, she said.

“It’s really a matter of missing what we think is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Byrd said.

The Land Trust has received $4.9 million in grants from the Coastal Conservancy and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The state Wildlife Board could award the effort another $2 million at an upcoming meeting early next year.

But while Byrd wants more large donations, she also is seeking small ones to fill the funding gaps. The community needs to be involved in creating a Rockville Trails Estates park, she said.

The Land Trust has hired a fundraising consultant and has a 23-member volunteer committee that is working to raise money, she said. It is giving tours of the property to potential donors, she said.

Rockville Trails Estates has long been the focus of controversy. Developers at various times over several decades tried to build homes in this rural area, with the Green Valley Landowners Association opposing such efforts.

Developer David Carroll won Solano County’s approval for the Rockville Trails Estates development in 2008. The Green Valley Landowners Association and Sierra Club sued the county. A lawsuit settlement gives the Solano Land Trust the right to try to buy the land.

The proposed 1,500-acre park would be more than twice the size of Fairfield’s Rockville Hills Park. Please go to http://www.solanolandtrust.org/Index.aspx for more information.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net.