Viewpoint - October 20, 2010

Letter: Why is council ignoring the Downtown Alliance?

Menlo Park City Council member Kelly Fergusson's Oct. 6 guest opinion regarding the city's draft plan for the downtown is persuasive, but misleading.

She states that "thousands of residents have participated" in the process. The Menlo Park Downtown Alliance, composed of over 120 downtown property and business owners, was formed because we were left out of the process. The city labels us a "special interest group" and will not engage us.

Ms. Fergusson's letter claims that "the plan allows the people that care the most about Menlo Park to shape our future." Don't we the business owners care? Why are our constructive ideas for improving the downtown being ignored?

Council member Fergusson claims that "out-of -town" developers won't determine our future. If that is the case, why does the draft plan propose that our city government should be able to lease or sell the downtown parking plazas? The plan claims the parking lots are underutilized and would be better with buildings, two five-level parking structures, and condos on them.

Will opening the floodgates for potentially 400,000 additional square feet of downtown buildings enhance and preserve our downtown charm, as Ms. Fergusson claims the city wants to do?

The Downtown Alliance has proposed several intelligent, constructive, and moderate ideas for improving the downtown long-term. Only council member Andy Cohen listens to and supports our ideas. Why won't the other council members engage the business community in a constructive way?

Three new candidates for City Council share our concerns about the city's draft plan. We urge voters to examine the positions of all the candidates to determine where they stand on this important issue.

Mark Flegel, Flegels Home Furnishings, Co-Chair, Downtown Alliance


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