http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/02/29/menlo-park-to-review-library-gym-parking


Almanac

News - February 29, 2012

Menlo Park to review library, gym parking

by Sandy Brundage

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 questions: How big a problem is it, and what could 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 only locked when there's a single staffer on duty, as a safety precaution.

Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller wondered whether congestion was necessarily 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

Posted by Raymond Mueller, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

The quote I provided to the Almanac in response to their inquiry on this topic was sent in an email. It reads 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."