News

Menlo Park to review library, gym parking

Gymnastics center construction ties up 40 spaces

The Library Commission's recent conclusion that about one-third of drivers hoping to stop at either the main Menlo Park Library or the new gym in the Civic Center have trouble finding a parking spot, leads to a couple of questions: How big a problem is it, and what can be done?

It turns out that when there's a tournament happening -- particularly after school hours -- parking is an exercise in frustration for about 31 percent of visitors, according to the commission in a Feb. 2 memo. During 10 months of spot checks, commissioners said they witnessed illegal parking, unsafe drop-offs of children, and drivers leaving without finding a space.

Community Services Director Cherise Brandell said that parking is mainly a problem when the basketball league is playing. Transportation staff will take a look at the situation in about six weeks, after construction of the new gymnastics center finishes, which will free an additional 40 spaces, she said.

Some community members suggested unlocking the side doors of the gym to provide easier access to other lots. According to Ms. Brandell, the side doors are locked only when there's a single staffer on duty, as a safety precaution.

Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller wondered whether congestion was necessarily all bad. "It underscores a great opportunity for cross-marketing. It would be great to see the library marketing itself to patrons of the gym," he said.

"A gym that is effectively drawing more families to the vicinity of the library, I believe is a fantastic opportunity, even if it does create congestion in the parking lot."

Some community grumbling pointed a finger at the planning process for the new Arrillaga Family Gymnasium, but Councilman Rich Cline called the project well thought out.

"We had this discussion in detail when the Friends of the Library and the commission cautioned against a full parking lot. I remember staff committing to check-ins and to being open to modifications if needed," he said, recalling that everyone knew the parking situation would need review.

Once the city assesses the situation, Mr. Cline commented, it may be time to sit down and consider potential changes. "It is great to have folks take time to show where the city may need to make improvements."

The Library Commission suggested several fixes, including better coordination of program schedules between both facilities, improved signs and directions for sports league participants, and more traffic mitigation by the transportation department. It also asked for increased parking enforcement.

Comments

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Posted by beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I frequent the library, but if parking does not improve, I will either switch to Atherton's or waste money buying the books. Traffic is bad enough getting to MP library and not finding a parking place adds to not-needed frustration. Does it make sense to allot parking for the library only? Aside from that little circle, perhaps another 10 spaces. I notice the computers are often in full use, so this is more than for oldtime library use for people. I understand it would be difficult to police; to know who is where, etc. Or could parking be built along Alma St next to the library?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by really
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 29, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Regarding the comment by Ray Mueller above:

-----
Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller wondered whether congestion was necessarily all bad. "It underscores a great opportunity for cross-marketing. It would be great to see the library marketing itself to patrons of the gym," he said.
-----
"A gym that is effectively drawing more families to the vicinity of the library, I believe is a fantastic opportunity, even if it does create congestion in the parking lot."

------

Well Ray, you are entitled to your views, but that is perhaps the most convoluted piece of reasoning to justify a problem like this that I can imagine. Since you are going to run for council, is this the kind of thoughtful thinking to which we will be subjected?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Raymond Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Really, I appreciate the constructive criticism, really. For the record though, the quote I actually provided to the Almanac's inquiry is as follows:

"I am not sure what can be done about congestion in the shared lot besides looking at signage directing people to other parking lots on the Burgess Park campus.

But congestion is not necessarily all bad. It underscores a great opportunity for cross marketing. It would be great to see the library marketing itself to patrons of the gym.

There are few instances that inspire creativity in the mind like coming across a subject title you never would have sought out, unless you stumbled upon it in a bookstore or a library. Walt Disney credited discovering a book on cartoon animation in the Kansas City public library as being one of the great influences in his career. Who knows what title will spark the inspiration of our children.

A gym that is effectively drawing more families to the vicinity of the library, I believe is a fantastic opportunity, even if it does create congestion in the parking lot."

So you see, Really, I wasn't trying to justify anything. I was just accepting the world for the way it is now, and trying to find the silver lining. I actually did suggest signage as an improvement, and the decision to omit that from the story wasn't mine. Some people try to find the silver lining to rain clouds. I guess I am one of them. And that's something I am not going to to apologize for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Raymond Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

By the way, Really, as published on the City website for the Transportation Commission, my contact information is:

Raymond Mueller
Phone: 650-776-8995
E-mail:
menlo.commish.mueller@gmail.com

Contact me. Tell me where you think I am wrong. Let's talk. I am not perfect, and I don't pretend to be. I promise not to tell anyone who you really are. Really.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MPLocal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 1, 2012 at 5:19 am

Why are these issues sounding new? This sort of congestion should have been very apparent when the gym (which is a great MP asset) was being considered.The better long term solution is to find a new and better location for our library, which is certainly not one of the better ones in the area., in part because of its location and unfortunate architecture. Perhaps seeking a downtown location, ultimately, is the wise path for the long term. Or, lets put a branch downtown to relieve some of the congestion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

I am really disappointed to see the media, or in this case, the almanac, pull quotes out of context. Congestion is the new normal. It seems to be Ray was merely pointing out the benefits of having the gym and library in close proximity.
@Really- Seems a little unfair to say Ray is justifying congestion. I think when you read his full comments, it is clear it is not a justification as much as, in his words, finding the silver lining.


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Posted by US Army Veteran
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

I am disgusted. I met Mr. Mueller at the Menlo park farmer's market collecting Valentine's for Veterans at the VA in Palo Alto. He is a good man and deserves better from the almanac than to have his words twisted the way they did. We'd be lucky if someone like him decided to run for city council. I wonder if the almanac editors are trying to politically assassinate him...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

Is this the same Ray who was at the school foundation meeting last night working on a science lab for the kids? Based on Ray's response, he seems to be just making suggestions that he thinks would benefit everyone. Not sure why he is being attacked but this kind of stuff is not good for our community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

How is this newsworthy? If this is the worst that's going on then we have it pretty good.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Raymond Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thank you, friends, for the kind words. I have talked to the Almanac, and I don't believe anyone was doing anything intentional to hurt me. Best to focus the attention back on the parking lot issue.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

Mueller is right. It is easier for my family to visit the gym and the library at the same time, and we've already enjoyed doing that. People in this town need to relax.


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