Almanac

Viewpoint - July 9, 2014

Letter: Don't blame SaveMenlo for fire station delay

SaveMenlo, the group sponsoring the downtown specific plan initiative, has one overriding goal: to improve the quality of life for Menlo Park residents. We support the vision of a revitalized downtown and we fully support the Menlo Park Fire Protection District's efforts to modernize its downtown fire station.

Opponents of the initiative (including a longtime fire board member who knows better) have suggested that the initiative is somehow responsible for delaying the fire station upgrade. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fire district's proposal to merge two parcels and rebuild the downtown fire station is not restricted by the initiative. The initiative does not prevent merging these parcels. Moreover, it does not stand in the way of the city changing its zoning rules as requested by the district for the project. The initiative does include a map of the specific plan area; this is relevant only for the purpose of showing where new square feet will be counted.

The fire district bought its expansion property more than six years ago, and raised numerous issues regarding the proposed downtown specific plan while it was being deliberated. The City Council, including a former fire board member, failed to address those issues prior to approving the specific plan in July 2012. They again failed to address them when they had another chance to do so during their November 2013 review of the specific plan.

The SaveMenlo Initiative, formally submitted in May 2014, has nothing to do with these failures of the City Council and the fire board.

I encourage all parties to work together to get this important new station approved and built as expeditiously as possible. If improvements to downtown fire safety are delayed further, it is only because that serves the interests of the initiative's opponents.

Patti Fry Wallea Drive, Menlo Park

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