The Carousel Fund Run was held on Sunday, October 9th.  It was a beautiful morning and a fitting setting to run in memory of Danny Cox, a local track star who passed away this summer.  Danny’s father was at the event and ran his first 5k to get second place in his division.  All in all it was a wonderful tribute to Danny.  Last year this event helped to raise money for the Carousel Fund which in turn helped Danny’s family with the medical expenses after he was paralyzed in an accident.

A total of 93 runners/walkers participated in the 5k.  Sky Pile, 36, of Santa Rosa was first overall in a time of 18.15 (5:53), Tim Hinkle, 16 of Petaluma was 2nd, 19.59 and Gabril Rosen-Durnan 15 did a 20:17 with his younger brother Eli, 14,  finishing just behind him in a time of  20:20!  Cedric Dotson, 54 of San Francisco, back for a third time at this event ran a 20:30 for  5th place. Top finishers for the Women were: Jennifer Branzinsky, 43, who ran a 22:42, Mia Gibbs, 12, 26:00 and Lotte Gonzales, 44, 26:26.

In the 10k event 49 people participated.  Keron Perez, 35 with the US Coast Guard sailed off with the overall title in a time of 32:32 – 5:15 mile pace!  2nd  overall was Jake  Gibbs, 14, in 40:20 and in 3rd place Ron Kuentzel, 51, with UPS in 42:30.  For the Women’s overall Cotah Rose, 55 of Santa Rosa was 1st in 43:00, 2nd was Beth Bilal, 33 of Petaluma in 43:01 and 3rd was Nina Dolcini, 12, of Petaluma in 49:21. For all of the age group awards click here.

This event almost didn’t happen when the permit for the use of Ellis Creek Park was pulled in late July.  The past Carousel Fund Runs events, in which members of Petaluma City Council and the Mayor participated, were wonderful.   There didn’t seem to be a clear reason why the the folks at the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Plant (ECWRP) singled out the Carousel Fund this year. So we met with Jan Mandrell, Parks and Recreation and  Mr. Scherzinger, ECWRP, and listened to his long list of demands.  They included private security guards every 500 feet, (is this San Quentin North?),  $5,000 damage deposit, a City employee  stationed at each of the ponds -and the list goes on.  Of course, these demands would have cost the Carousel Fund, a non profit local charity to help families like the Cox family, more money than a run could generate. It was clear that Mr. Scherzinger did not want anyone in His Facility.  In fact, he repeatedly stated that it was a  “facility and not a park”. All of the special conditions for use of  Ellis Creek do NOT apply at Shollenberg Park.  So is Ellis Creek a Park or a Facility? Personally, I think it is both, after all Ellis Creek has twice the number of parking spaces than the neighboring park, Shollenberg Park, and twice the number of public washrooms.  Clearly, when this Facility/Park was built they were expecting the public to use it.  Sadly, this is not the case. As a runner who frequents both of these parks weekly I have noticed that when the Shollenberg Park parking lot is full there is never anyone at Ellis Creek. Events like the Carousel Fund Run and the Casa Grande Relays attract local residents to Ellis Creek and promote an active lifestyle.  This is why we have parks for the public to use and enjoy.

It is important to note that we did come to an agreement with regard to the use of the Park.  We had to pay for a ECWTP Employee to oversee the event.  An employee of the ECWTP came the morning of the event but made it clear to us that he was not there to oversee the it.  Regardless, the Carousel Fund had to pay for his time – all 6 hours event though the event started with a 7:30am set up and we were all gone by 11:00am.   Does this seem right? Perhaps, this money should be returned to the Carousel Fund to help local families.

The bottom line is that the Taxpayers of Petaluma paid for 5 million worth of trails  as part of the Ellis Creek Water Treatment Facility in addition to the 125 million for the construction of the facility.  According to their own website the rules for Ellis Creek are the same as they are for Shollenberger Park.  This clearly is the not the case!   I will be working with City Council to oversee clear and fair guidelines for the the use of the Ellis Creek Water Facility/Park so that all everyone can enjoy this great park. Hope to see you all at the 4th Annual Carousel Fund Run on October 7th , 2012.