To kick off efforts to build the new gym, the city held several "focus group" meetings aimed at garnering input from people who frequent the gym — such as residents in adult sports leagues, or parents with children in the gymnastics program — and those who live nearby.
At the meetings, a city-hired consultant took a written record of suggestions about what should or shouldn't be incorporated into the design of a new gym.
Although fliers about the meetings were handed out at the gym to sports participants and distributed to the neighborhood, there was little public notification of the meeting to the rest of the general public and the press.
Sports user groups and neighbors may be most impacted by the design and features of the new gym, but the new facility will be paid for by the next wave of funding from Measure T — the 2001 bond proposal passed by Menlo Park voters to improve the city's parks and recreation facilities.
"My understanding is that the city was looking for more of a sample of the community rather than opening it up to everybody," said City Manager Glen Rojas of the meetings. Mr. Rojas added that the city may opt to hold more meetings to get more public input.
City Councilman Richard Cline said he plans to push the city manager to "restart the meetings entirely" and make sure the entire public is notified.
"There's an imperfect notification system in the city," Mr. Cline said. "In order to build a community project, we have to get more community input."
Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Nick Naclerio said the aim of the focus groups was to get specific input from people who are familiar with the gym, not to block public input.
"We're not trying to exclude anyone from providing input," he said. "We're trying to figure out the deficiencies with the current complex, and what people want in a new complex. Everyone will get their say."
Mr. Naclerio said residents can comment on what they'd like to see in a new gym at the next meeting of the parks commission, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 20. He said parks commissioners will discuss the new Burgess Gym at each monthly meeting until narrowing the options down to three potential designs that will go before the City Council.