News - January 27, 2010

Menlo Watch: City may help fund new Hillview field

by Sean Howell

With land for new playing fields scarce and demand showing no sign of slowing, Menlo Park may share the cost of a new synthetic field at the renovated Hillview Middle School, in exchange for use of the field.

City management is recommending that the city put $500,000 toward the field, provided the city and the Menlo Park City School District can come to terms on details such as fees, scheduling, maintenance, and design.

The City Council could authorize negotiations with the school district at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located between Laurel and Alma streets in the Civic Center complex.

The city and school district share use of the existing Hillview field. Demolition of that field and construction of the new campus is scheduled to begin this spring.

The money would come out of the city's recreation-in-lieu fund, which developers pay into in order to mitigate the effects of development, according to city staff.

Council to honor community activist

Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline will read a proclamation honoring community activist Elizabeth Lasensky at the City Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Among other things, the proclamation recognizes Ms. Lasensky's involvement in the campaign to preserve Bedwell Bayfront Park, her advocacy of the city's need for rental housing, her involvement with an environmental group, her service on the Housing Commission, and her frequent letters to the editor.

Ms. Lasensky recently moved to San Carlos, forced out of Menlo Park by a big rent increase. The idea to honor her came out of conversations between Mr. Cline and Councilman Heyward Robinson.

"We felt that, she's been on the Housing Commission, she's been a great volunteer, so the honorable thing to do would be to recognize her as she moves on to another city, and to encourage more volunteers to step up and try to fill her shoes," Mr. Cline said in an interview. "I hope it's not controversial. There's some subjectivity to this, and you've got to be sensitive about that."

Menlo Park residence wins green award

A Menlo Park home will been recognized by Sustainable San Mateo County for its use of environmentally friendly construction methods in a renovation.

Homeowners Cathy Ricke and Bruce Schena expanded and modernized their 1939 cottage using a variety of "green" methods. They used "cool" roofing, natural lighting and ventilation techniques, recycled and non-toxic materials, among other environmentally sound measures, according to the city of Menlo Park.

The homeowners, along with architect Ana Williamson and Drew Maran Construction, will receive one of three green building awards at a dinner and banquet March 11.

Three spots open on Planning Commission

Three spots on Menlo Park's seven-member Planning Commission are up for appointment for four-year terms, which would begin May 1. Applications are due by Friday, April 2.

The commission considers use permits and variances, and makes recommendations to the City Council on whether or not to rezone properties. It is the only one of the city's commissions with the authority to make final decisions, except for a small number of matters such as rezoning.

Two commissioners, Melody Pagee and Henry Riggs, have reached the two-term limit. Commission Chair Jack O'Malley, appointed by the previous council majority, told The Almanac he plans to apply for another four-year term.

The commission meets twice a month on Mondays at 7 p.m. The council makes all appointments.

Go to to download an application, or pick one up at the city administration building in the Civic Center complex, between Laurel and Alma streets. For more information, contact City Clerk Margaret Roberts at or 330-6620.


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