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Gym project cleared for construction

Original post made on Jul 22, 2009

Construction on a new gymnasium in Menlo Park's Civic Center complex could begin as early as this fall, now that Menlo Park's City Council has given the project the green light.
[Web Link ==B See related story on city's final proposal.==.]

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 12:02 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by don't understand, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:48 am

I thought the only reason for a council member to abstain is if they have a conflict of interest, but that is not the case here. Can the almanac please explain why Andy Cohen is abstaining from votes?

Posted by pragmatic, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:39 am

He explains why he abstained. He doesn't want to kill the project but he doesn't agree with it as staff proposed. Many people feel the same way.

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2009 at 9:17 am

While I agree with, and am relieved, that the CC approved this project, I do think they might want to rethink the decision to spend $250K for LEED Silver certification. Those familiar with the LEED program know that there are multiple levels within the rating system, with Gold and Platinum being above Silver. In fact, the things that go into a building's design and construction which would enable certification at the Silver level are basically the stuff an intelligent person would do to maximize the efficiency of a building from an operating/utility cost standpoint. Its not until you strive for a Gold or Platinum that you are really adding significant cost to your design and making an impact from an environmental standpoint. Most spec buildings these days could easily qualify for LEED Silver because the developers are sensitive to operating costs, but they don't spend the extra money to get a piece of paper to put on the wall saying so. $250K could be better spent.

Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:00 am

I just reviewed the meeting. I work nights so I cannot attend in person.

I think this was the correct decision. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the potential negative outcomes and I think the council hit that point. This is all about the follow through and, to be honest, it can be hit or miss with our city staff at times.

So I do respect the concerns.

The parks commissioners made a good point about process being served.

Fergusson gave a pretty good argument for LEED value.

Posted by pragmatic, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:03 am

Who are YOU, WhoRU? You don't live in this community and you don't understand LEED. Maybe this is none of your business?

What is particularly shocking is that the council did almost nothing to mitigate the traffic effects. Essentially they said "we want people to cut through neighborhoods to get to this gym rather than facilitate better traffic flow on the main streets."

Posted by Sustainble Neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I am disapointed to see that Menlo Park believes it prudent to spend $250,000 on LEED certification -- especially when money is so tight these days. I believe strongly in LEED building standards, and completely support spending additional money up front to meet LEED standards, but getting the 'certificate' not the goal. Building and running an environmentally sustainable building should be.

Stanford, our neighbor, has chosen to build green, but save the $100,000 to $200,000 per building they'd need to get the LEED certificate. Instead, they spend the money on other efforts that will actually help save the environment. You can download their Guidelines for Sustainable Buildings here:
Web Link
And you can read more about their decision not to spend money on certificates here:
Web Link

I'm sure our council members would love to put on their resumes that they've approved and built a LEED silver building. If they want to do so, then please find private funding to cover this expense that primarily benefits their resumes, and not our community.

Posted by LEED Scam, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm

If you think that ANY contractor or architect these days does not spend the time to research LEED type criteria, you're nuts! We don't need to spend the $250K for this, we'll have this, and we will be the ones (the city) to make these types of decisions. Let us decide, we'll make as good a decision as any LEED certification would. Ms. Ferguson loves to spend money, outrageous increase for the police force (union), $250K for a traffic signal,(when $30K is sufficient), MPCC for 50 families, now LEED certification.....the list is getting very long. Someone needs to tell Ms. Ferguson that we are in a recession, and someone needs to tell Andy that he was elected to make tough decisions. We know it's difficult Andy, but take a stand, get involved, that's why you are there. You are not just there to "help the little guy", please help ALL of the tax paying citizens.

Posted by I do understand, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

If Andy Cohen disagreed with the project, he should have voted against it. He's just trying to have it both ways.

Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Pragmatic--I don't usually get involved in personal dialog, but, frankly, you touched a nerve. So, in as respectful a tone as I can, I will explain why I participate in this forum and why I think this is "my business". No, I don't live in MP, but, I have worked in your great city for 40 years. Consequently, I may very well spend more of my waking hours in town than do you, unless of course you both live and work here. So, said bluntly, I care about MP, I really like MP, I wish I could have afforded to buy here back when I purchased my current home. I personally don't think this forum should be limited to people who own property/rent in MP. In my view, 10-12 hours out of every day, I "live" in MP. As for my views about LEED certification, both Sustainable Neighbor and LEED Scam said it better than I did.

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Leed Scam is spot on!

Kelly Fergusson is the typical liberal. She is always generous with the taxpayers' money. And she certainly doesn't have even the slightest inkling of what project management is. You don't need to blow $250K.

But Kelly does not understand that you don't have to spend a lot of green to be green. You just make the LEED criteria part of the construction contract and have one of our own building inspectors validate that the construction meets or exceeds the LEED criteria at each project milestone under the milestone payment plan.

Satisfaction of the LEED requirements is essential to satisfying the milestone exit criteria. If the milestone is not complete the builder does not get paid.

Posted by You're Letting Me Down, Hank!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Hank L.:
"have one of our own building inspectors validate that the construction meets or exceeds the LEED"

Wait, Hank, I thought all city employees were just useless pond scum.

Plus LEED is "environmental" - doesn't that make it socialist as well?

What next, Hank - support for more low-income housing? Maybe even a "livable wage" law?

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Dear Useless Pond Scum

The issue is with the Unions not the employees, unless the employees think they are entitled to 43% higher salaries and 63% higher benefits than the private sector with far less risk of losing their jobs. If so, then they are just being avaricious.

Reasonable environmentalism is a good thing. Controlling people's lives under the guise of environmentalism is a bad thing. Given that we have finite natural resources and much of these resources are controlled by countries with an intense dislike of the United States it makes good sense to conserve. But when extreme environmentalists want to deny the development of nuclear energy, drilling for oil, using coal in clean burning plants until we can develop large renewable sources of energy they are being disengenuous.

By the Way Al Gore's town of Nashville Tennessee had the coldest July 21st on record since Nashville started keeping records 122 years ago. So now you know why the liberals have abandoned the term global warming and are now calling it global climate change. Guess what the climate is always changing. It always has and it always will.

Posted by You're Letting Me Down, Hank!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm

nuclear energy = Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, rad waste for millions of years with no safe place to put it

drilling for oil = Exxon Valdez, recent SF Bay incident, past SoCal spills

using coal = leading source of toxic mercury emissions, acid rain, and smog, along with global climate change

And BTW, it's always been called climate change by scientists - it's the dreaded MSM that gets it wrong using the inaccurate term "global warming".

Posted by Hank Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 24, 2009 at 10:39 am

Dear Useless Pond Scum

You are living in the past. France, Japan, and Brazil have been getting clean nuclear energy for over 30 years without a major incident. In fact over 80% of their energy is generated by nuclear power plants. France sells nuclear generated electricity to Germany.

Drilling for oil is safe when the proper precautions are taken. We have abundant oil reserves which are untapped due to panicky SFB liberals.

We have very clean coal burning plants. Just ask Democrat Senator Robert Byrd. We could use wind energy more but Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy won't let us have it- atg least not in Massachusetts.

The far left wants us to obtain all our energy through renewable resources. This is a laudable goal that can perhaps be achieved within the next 50 years. But hydro, solar, and wind only account for about 5% of our energy supply. We have to use nuclear which is the safest, coal which is reasonably safe, and oil which if extracted and transported properly is safe as well.

Posted by Bela Mariani, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 8:10 am


I find a disturbing trend in Menlo Park where a vociferous minority seek to impose their irrational environmentalist views upon the community at large. Renewable sources of energy now only constitute 2 to 5% of our energy production. Cap in Trade goals will only bring that amount to 17.5% by 2020. Even that goal seems unattainable. But that should not deter us.

We should continue to strive to achieve energy independence. But it is going to take a combination of renewable energy and non-renewable energy to achieve that goal. The United States is the Saudi Arabia of Coal. Shouldn't development of very low emissions coal energy production plants be a goal?

France develops almost all of it electricity from Nuclear power plants. The United States needs more nuclear power plants. Spent rods are currently stored at the INEL in Idaho. There have been no mishaps there.

Agreed our goal should be 100% renewable energy. But that could take 50 to 100 years. In the meantime we need a combination of renewable and nonrenewable energy to achieve our energy independence.

Posted by Nice Bela!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Nice job Bela, you actually make sense, and you do a nice job articulating this! Common sense, that is something government, and many of the "vociferous minority" seem to lack. One other number: If we were to stop driving ALL cars tomorrow, our country would still need 5 MILLIONS BARRELS of oil for many other things, per DAY. Let's all think about THAT.
(it's a fact, look it up)

Posted by Curious in the Twilight Zone, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

Bela and Nice Bela, What evidence do you have that environmental leaders in this community represent a "minority"? And why do you criticize as "irrational" those who are trying to increase the production of renewable energy? How "rational" is it to continue down the same path that has led us to the brink of environmental disaster? And how did the discussion of what our community can do to act responsibly become cheerleading for nuclear energy and coal energy production?

Posted by Nice Bela!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Evidence: Ferguson pushing Tesla, getting credit for Tesla etc. = $0 Tax Dollars generated for Menlo Park, as of this date. Ferguson's reason for voting for a $250K signal light, versus the $30K alternative crosswalk = "this will push more people into cars." $250K certification for LEEDS from Ferguson and Robinson, WASTED money, you can achieve the same goal with city staff. I have many more examples, but my point with praising Bela is that there IS a compromise, but no one seems to want to even consider it. Government has done nothing but cost taxpayers more money. In 1977 the Department of Energy was create, to......."lesson our dependence on foreign oil"! Now with 16,000 employees, and a budget of $24.2B per year.........where are we going with this??? Government should make policy, make laws, collect tax revenue but get out of the way and allow private citizens and companies fix the problems, or capitalize on the opportunities!

Posted by Beware The Multiple Personalities of Hank!, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Hank Lawrence = Bela = Nice Bela! (= Hank Hill?)

Posted by Sorry Multiple Personalities, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I know it's tough to admit you are wrong "Beware The Multiple...", but you are wrong. I am not Hank, and Bela is not Hank, we're just citizens concerned about Menlo Park's fiscal health. Something unheard of with your group. Most of us just sit here in utter amazement of the waste, and more waste, my biggest disappointment is the apathy with most of our citizens. If more than 20% of the voters paid attention, I mean really paid attention, these spend thrifts would not have a chance to win any election. However, my prediction is that this will continue, year after year, until we end up spending hundreds of thousands more on surveys, and idiotic green dreams, and end up with no commercial district whatsoever, what a crime.

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