County to Menlo: Please take Flood Park Menlo Park, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Mar 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Needing to slice 10 percent off San Mateo County's general fund operating budget, administrators scrambled to find ways to save money on the county's 17 parks. One proposal asks Menlo Park to take over Flood Park, a wedge of land sandwiched between Bay Road and the Bayshore Freeway.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 23, 2011, 10:25 AM
Posted by Youth Sports Proponent, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Why don't all the local sports teams and clubs get together and lobby for the park to stay open? We have such a dearth of field space in Menlo Park - particularly for soccer, baseball and softball, but also for lacrosse and other sports. Seems like a great space and location. Hope that the City Council is able to make this happen!
Posted by Olson, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm
This park has a baseball field that could add to Menlo Park's much needed field inventory! Save our park. I hope the city can find a way to manage this park on behalf of its East of El Camino residents!
Posted by Realist, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Sell the land; develop the property. Use the funds to increase the property tax base. It could be residential or business.
The development could, possibly, still have park space.
The schools already have properties that they have rented out: German American School, Phillips Brooks, Woodland, to name a few. The Districts need to reclaim the space and use the facilities for what the taxpayers originally intended. They have become addicted to the ongoing revenue stream from leasing out the properties. End the insanity.
Posted by peter carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm peter carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Realist is right - the State is broke, the County is broke and Menlo Park has a structural deficit. The County and Menlo Park should partner on an RFP to private sector firms for the development of this site into an innovative residential community with integrated park spaces.
We, unfortunately, need to convert this property from being a consumer of public resources into a one time cash generator and a long term property tax source. Doing that wisely and creatively is an opportunity and a challenge.
Posted by A Menlo Park Family, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm
A few comments about the article:
"The park is recommended for closure because it's easy to fence off and other parks are available nearby, Mr. Porter explained."
This is simply not true. In my experience, there is not a park big enough to have a restroom in the area bounded by Middlefield/101 /Willow/Marsh.
"County data showed 75,000 visitors to Flood Park last year. Several of those visitors wrote to the City Council and county administrators, asking that the park stay open."
This is also simply not true. I understand that the County counts visitors through parking fees and/or reservations. That will count only a fraction of Flood Park visitors. Almost all people walk and bike in or park on Bay Road. This park teems with park-goers. The County seems completely out of touch with the way this park is used by the community.
At a time when this park could be a vibrant part of changes coming to to this part of Menlo Park (Menlo Gateway, Facebook HQ, etc), the County has instead decided to create a crime-ridden eyesore.
I hope the County will keep the park open until the City can take over management in a way that continues to enliven this part of Menlo Park.
Posted by Tom Wong, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm
Realist is right when he says to use the facility for what the taxpayers originally intended. But I don't think the intent was to develop it into commercial and private housing. As a lifetime resident and taxpayer of San Mateo County and Menlo Park, I would like to see the facility used for the benefit of the entire community as it has been used. Property is at a premium in this area and we should preserve the property for public use. Also using it for a one time cash generator is wrong, once it's gone it'll be gone forever.
Posted by Tim, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm
A Menlo Park Family is spot on... that the number of paid visitors doesn't approach the true number of people that use Flood Park. Many visitors walk or ride bikes (or park in the neighborhoods to avoid paying parking fees). I've been living in the area for more than 10 years, and regularly take satisfaction in seeing how much Flood Park gets used. I don't have any statistics, but I'd bet that it gets used more than many, or maybe even most, county parks. I hope the county (or the city) can find a way to keep it open.
Posted by Menlo Park Homeowner, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm
Far from being just another county park, Flood is the only neighborhood park for the surrounding communities. It is heavily utilized every day of the year. There are no other nearby parks available to our neighborhoods. A boarded-up park will decrease property values - a very short-sighted move!
Posted by AnnM, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 8:37 am
Living close by, I often walk to and through the park on warm weekend days. I see so many people of all, families, groups enjoying themselves, playing, relaxing, having picnics, celebrating birthdays and holidays. Close the park, fence it in - and it will attract the darker side of humanity given its proximity to the 101 foot bride overpass (already a neighborhood issue) and shelter criminal activities, homeless encampments, illegal dumping. The park land should be used to benefit citizens, provide open space for the enjoyment of all.
Posted by Mike G, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 12:25 pm
With all the need for sports teams, clubs, general sports enthusiasts why not bring it into the city portfolio of parks and convert it (both with private and public monies) to a sports complex including open space and playgrounds so families can truly enjoy and all encompassing experience.
There are plenty of partners that would be willing to contribute to, with proper planning and involvement, a state of the art park to satisfy the ever expanding Menlo Park population.
Our little league is bursting at the seams, the soccer clubs (including AYSO, Strikers, etc.) and the lacrosse clubs are all overlapping and straining our fields to the brink. The lack of available fields and overlapping sports now with many year round sports clubs is making it very difficult for everyone. Many of our kids/families opt to drive to other communities to play organized sports because of better fields, facilities or availability of teams.
We have to work together to come up with a solution for our kids while maintaining the parks beauty. This is a great opportunity to take a park in need of major renovation and make it a destination for Menlo Park families, not just those who live in the neighborhoods bordering the park.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm
With all city departments taking a 10% cut to their current budgets this month, I do no see how any one in Menlo Park could ask the city to take on another costly park. The current Comminity Services budget could not accommodate running a park as large as Flood Park. It's time we realized that we are moving into a era were we cannot afford facilities that make this town a community.
Posted by common sense, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm
The people who developed this city in the mid-20th century did not have the foresight to set aside adequate green space for recreational purposes. Now we have an opportunity to compensate somewhat for that lack of planning by acquiring Flood Park.
I cannot believe that anyone is seriously considering converting the park to other uses. The park is located in a densely populated area that includes families with young children. Adding housing would increase the demand for recreational space while removing a huge chunk of it (and let's not even talk about the impact on traffic, infrastructure, schools.)
Thanks to mismanagement and pension woes, our city's financial health is not the best. But adding another park would be an asset to our community. And the city's operating costs for parks are lower than the county's because the city does not hire rangers or deal with money collection.
It would be a travesty to pass up this opportunity.
Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm Henry Riggs is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
We do not need to acquire Flood Park, we already have it. We are residents of San Mateo county as well as Menlo Park, and the same supervisors who have run the budget into a wall are supposed to represent us. Before asking Menlo Park to bail out the county, we need to ask our supervisors to control employee costs, not systematically shut down our assets and services year after year - that process is only avoiding the real problem.
Posted by Youth Sports Proponent, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to the post by Realist ... with all due respect your analysis of the situation about school properties that are currently leased out is too simplistic. Yes, Las Lomitas School District owns the land and buildings that Woodland and Phillips Brooks schools rent out. And, yes, the revenue is nice. Las Lomitas is busting at the seams. The District undertook a thoughtful study of both sites and looked at taking back one or both properties. The cost is HUGE. The facility at Woodland is incredibly outdated and NOT built to state codes. Private schools are exempt from many of the regulations by which public schools must abide. The cost to take back Woodland was far more expensive than the cost to add portables to the existing facilities at Las Lomitas and Le Entrada. The costs were enormous - 1) lose the current revenue; 2) tear down and rebuild the facilities and 3) take on the continuing operating expenses of the new building and facilities. Additionally, the communities would be fractured.
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm
Let's all be thankful single issue Riggs does is not in a position to actually make a decision like this. It is far too easy to wax poetic from the sidelines and advocate doing nothing when you don't have a need for the field itself. I would say you are in a large majority -- but I am sure Dubock will try to sandbag the idea in an email to her "friends"...and use the exact language Riggs does, and then Ed will follow and Roy...
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm
Have the city take it over and add a dog park. Boo San Mateo County and their anti-dog stance. I would actually pay to visit weekly (it is walking distance). Right now I avoid the place because I can't walk even walk through with my dog on a leash and doggie bags at the ready. Really a disservice to local families.
Whether or not the city takes over management of the park in the long-term, the surrounding communities need Flood Park to re-open in September 2011 after the water service construction project is complete.
This community cannot handle a 21 acre boarded-up park for one more day than is necessary. This will be a crime magnet.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2011 at 10:05 am
Neighbor states:"This community cannot handle a 21 acre boarded-up park for one more day than is necessary. This will be a crime magnet. "
Folks - local government is broke and has to cut back what it is already doing not add new financial obligations.
Since the State is broke, the County is broke and the City already has a structural deficit why not convert this parcel into Below Market Rate housing with a number of embedded small parks each catering to some special interest like dogs, volleyball etc. Such a project would be a job creator and could reduce the need of the residents to commute to this area for their jobs. Perhaps give first priority to teachers.
Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Agree! sell just enough land to buy the park, develop soccer & lacrosse fields, another baseball field or two, keep the picnic space and charge admission, and move Menlo Park out of the depths (MP has close to the lowest % park space in the state). Parks & Rec Commission, City Council, Mayor, just say yes!
Posted by Peter B, a resident of another community, on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm
I live in redwood city and have been trying to get the county parks department to agree to a disc golf course at juniper Serra in san Bruno. Why is that relevant to flood park? Well, we estimate that the disc golf course could bring in up to 100k in new park revenue annually. With that and other cost cutting/ innovative revenue ideas the county won't need to close Flood or any other park now or into the foreseeable future. Tell the park commission to take all of the various proposals, including the disc golf course, seriously so that we can keep our parks open and safe for everyone.
Posted by Kat C., a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm
Thanks for the many thoughtful comments here. What about a county-city private sector collaboration that would create ideas that would preserve the parks while developing self-funding mechanisms? Desperate times call for thinking outside the box. The existing model doesn't work and we need the open space in SM County.
Posted by The Voice, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm
Posted by Ed's pipe dream, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:33 am
How big is the property--did someone say 23 acres?
I want Zuckerburg to buy it to build his face book dearm castle there (with a no subdivision clause)--he likes to live close to work anyway and the mature trees planted by the Flood family around what was then a man made lake, have got to be gorgeous.
This solves the problem of not adding to traffic issues or housing density or the loss of green space.
But I want Mark to give some park land for public use--maybe some big public/private pavillion venue that he could use to host his own private mega events and house a police or fire substation to make him feel safe.
Oh! and I want an off leash dog park that charges a membership fee of 150$ a year with signed liability release forms for dog who are vetted for reasonable social skills.
There is no better free park security than a bunch of responsible (and territorial) dog owners standing around at all hours proudly and protectively observing there pets having fun.
Posted by Tim Yaeger, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm
This is all a sham so the county can continue to over pay employees and grant excessive benefit packages. The county has no money????, but they are buying office buildings that are nicer then most private enterprises occupy, i.e. circle star buildings in RWC along 101 with an electronic billboard. They should probably just permanently write SUCKERS on this billboard so that all of the citizens in the county can see how we are being taken for a ride. The county is building a new jail??? does the county need all new facilities for its employees or convicts, no.
The county should keep the parks open and bring in private enterprises to run the parks. Their costs would be a fraction of the current budget and they would come up with innovative ways to increase revenues to provide basics like parks to citizens.
Posted by Archie, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm
This is just an effort of the country to shift its deficit to the city.
I love parks; they're great. Bedwell Park, also a 'gift', has its own financial problems. But Menlo Park shouldn't acquire this until they know the cost to the city --- and how they'll pay it. If the city is so flush, which they aren't, there are other departments/services that need the funding as well -- like libraries.
Posted by Neighbor, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Your comments not only reflect a thinly veiled racism, they are factually incorrect. I live in Suburban Park, which is an incorporated area, and neighbors here use the park extremely regularly. Many residents use it daily. This is also true for the Flood Triangle neighborhood, which is also incorporated. You are just wrong here and your impressions speak ill of your character.
There is not another public park within walking distance of any this area. Laurel school is the only place we can walk or bike for kids to play, but not during school hours. Flood Park is it. It serves the local community well and while it has been closed for the SFPUC project, it has been very sorely missed.
Posted by Jennifer Bestor, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm
One interesting factor in the decision is that Flood Park is actually in both the Menlo Park Redevelopment Area and the Ravenswood School District.
Ms. Brandell's comment regarding the state's proposed takeover of RDA's is particularly relevant since, if the state were to take over the RDA, it would receive the vast majority of the new property tax generated. Thus, the City would find itself in the same position as local school districts -- having signed away its rights to a 'fair share' under the assumption that it would be able to recoup necessary costs, it would have to provide all City services for free. (The Fire District, on the other hand, would find itself better off -- it only gets about 45% of what it normally would on RDA property ... but 45% of full current market value is pretty near what it's getting elsewhere, where lots of properties are Prop-13 constrained.)
Meanwhile, of course, the first logical thing the developer might do would be to sue to get the children into the Menlo Park City School District. Since MPCSD would get no additional funding for the children (whoever controlled the RDA), it would result in a further RDA-related charge against local education. Menlo-Atherton High School would, in any case, take the full hit for any high-school aged children.
Do teachers qualify for BMR housing? My understanding has always been that California teachers are paid above the qualifying levels.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm
Jennifer - great points - as always. I do not know the rules on BMR but I suggest that if Menlo Park wished to solicit RFP's for the very creative use of this property as mixed use housing and small parks that the RFP could specify any eligibility requirements it wished to impose on the proposals. A truly competitive design process would get a lot of interesting ideas - for free.
The crucial thing is that we think creatively and within the City's financial capacity.
Posted by Mom of 2, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In addition to all the other compelling reasons already listed to keep the park open and accessible I'd like to add one: what message does it send the children of this city if we shutter this park? "you're not important enough for our bottom line?". "nature doesn't matter?" "open space doesn't fit in the city or county's long term plan so you might as well learn to live without now?". What a shame. I'm not sure I can read The Lorax by Dr Seuss and look my children in the eye quite the same if this park is closed and/or developed.
Posted by tree hugger, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm
Flood Park is a valuable asset, worth far more to the community than can be gained by a short-sighted sale to gain a one-time cash infusion. Any tax revenue generated would be offset by the cost of necessary services. People need green space, room to play, room to share good times with friends and family. Times are hard but losing Flood Park is not the answer.
Posted by Jill O., a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm
I am a neighbor of Flood Park. I have been distressed to learn that Flood Park may be slated to be closed indefinitely! This would be a great loss for Menlo Park. Flood Park is a large 21 acre triangle that is wedged in the middle of three residential, family-friendly communities. I invite you to look at the new website “Save Flood Park.org ” and the new SaveFloodPark Facebook page to see the neighbor's commitment to saving this park for yourself.
A fenced, closed and vacant Flood Park without foot traffic, regular use and maintenance, and police patrols is very likely to attract vagrants, drug dealers or gangs to our family friendly area! This is not a hypothetical concern. At our last Neighborhood Watch meeting a Menlo Park Police Officer told our group that it would be difficult for him to patrol FLood Park if the the park is fenced and the gates are locked. One long-time family of Suburban Park told me that in the early 1980‘s FLood Park was known for drug dealing. The families and seniors living next to Flood Park dread a return to those long ago days when the Food Park attracted criminals instead of families.
Flood Park is also a vital part of a heavily trafficked driving and pedestrian thru-way on Bay Road that is used on a daily basis by our neighborhood children walking to Laurel elementary school and Menlo Atheron High school. Indeed it is the only safe pedestrian and bike route from my neighborhood to those schools. In addition, numerous Hillview middle school students wait for the bus to Hillview each morning directly across the street from Flood Park. Please help keep Flood Park open and this heavily used area safe for our kids. Thank you!
Posted by A Concerned Citizen, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm
Eveyone is concerned about the budget situation but shutting this park is not an answer and it is far from clear what the ultimate impact will be.
1. First, this is a great park and a huge, vibrant open space that the community needs -- for sports, for aesthetics, for general enjoyment.
2. Shutting it will not eliminate the costs. The City, through the police department, will still need to patrol it and someone will have to maintain it. No one can "afford" to let this property "go to pot" or become a pocket of potential crime or a hazard to children in the area who must walk by it on the way to school.
3. If redevelopment makes sense, the first practical step is to examine whether it is legally and practically feasible and to compare it to alternative uses (such as a park, sports fields, etc). Until that can occur, shutting it only creates problems. Keep it open and then look at redevelopment.
4. The communities around Flood Park are obviously full of energized, intelligent residents of the city. They should be given time and a forum to explore potential revenue generating solutions and other ways to save the park or avoid the loss of the park and the other serious downsides discussed in the blog.
Menlo Park is known for being a super place for families. We should get behind an effort by citizens (and the City) to solve a problem that has been thrust on them by the county. I think they can do it.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm
Poster after poster sings the praises of Flood Park and how important it is to SAVE FLOOD PARK. That will only happen if the advocates can identify a viable source of funding. Nobody doubts that Flood Park is an important asset but so are all the other program funded by the County and the City and there are no surplus funds, in fact both the County and the City have significant deficits.
Where exactly is the necessary funding going to come from?
What existing programs should be cut to save Flood Park?
Posted by Moved here for Flood Park, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm
If it were possible *sigh* I would gladly cut $200,000 from the ....fill in the blank. It's a nice try to get an argument going on budget priorities.
The question is, do we want to spend $200,000 on an additional police officer to patrol an abandoned park or do we want to spend it on keeping the park open allowing thousands of residents the enjoyment of this land. I know there are projects that can be delayed, capital purchases trimmed, or positions temporarily frozen when we're talking about less than 1% of the city budget.
There are many creative proposals floating around to make this park work and potentially cost the city a lot less than what the county was paying to support it. First, there is revenue from sports leagues that the county wasn't getting because they lacked facilities for these leagues.
Second, there are already staff in the current budget that would maintain Flood park. The incremental increase in staff time may not be as much as the county was paying.
Third, there is also the idea of a public private partnership to lease space more to user groups that are looking for space, such as club level sports leagues or an operator of batting cages, etc.
This comment is not meant as a vetting of the ideas, the point is only that there are lots of ways to make this work for everyone and not dent the city budget much, if at all.
There are so many reasons to keep this park open and if the city can fold it into it's nearly $30,000,000 budget, it would be a terrific long term asset to the community.
Thanks for caring, Peter, and please put your creative thinking cap on. I know you have to decide on budget items for the fire protection district, surely you can use your wisdom to help us come up with some useful ideas.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm
Moved here - so far the best idea I can come up with is the one I stated above - Since the State is broke, the County is broke and the City already has a structural deficit why not convert this parcel into Below Market Rate housing with a number of embedded small parks each catering to some special interest like dogs, volleyball etc. Such a project would be a job creator and could reduce the need of the residents to commute to this area for their jobs. Perhaps give first priority to teachers.
If Menlo Park wished to solicit RFP's for the very creative use of this property as mixed use housing and small parks then the RFP could specify any eligibility requirements it wished to impose on the proposals. A truly competitive design process would get a lot of interesting ideas - for free.
The crucial thing is that we think creatively and within the City's financial capacity.
Posted by Moved here for Flood Park, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 8:26 am
@Peter Carpenter:"The crucial thing is that we think creatively and within the City's financial capacity."
Thank you for helping us come up with ideas rather than try to pit one interest over another.
Just because times are tight, we should not lose sight of one of the most fundamental roles of local government: providing open space and parks for residents. I believe there are ways to continue operating the park for less cost, with potential for added revenue, and with creative ways to fund the operation to not impact the city or county's budget as much as it has in past years.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:20 am
Unfortunately when government has run out of money each program must stand on its own. As I told local governments in 2008:
"First, local governments need to recognize that there is a crisis and act now.
Second, they need to involve their citizens in a careful look at each of their programs to determine which programs are no longer affordable — however nice or special they might have been in better times, or even how worthy any single program might be."
It is now a zero sum game and that means that one person's pet project must be evaluated in comparison of every other person's pet project. That is not 'pitting one interest over another' but fiscal reality.
Posted by one more anon posting, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:11 am
Just about every evening since I learned about the park's closure, I've finished work, fed my kids dinner, loaded them in a stroller and hit the pavement to go talk to people in the neighborhoods surrounding Flood Park about the closure. While my original goal was simply to raise awareness of the park closure, what it turned into was an opportunity to talk with the community about solutions.
Here's what I've found. Contrary to how some on this forum implicitly or explicitly paint them, these neighbors are not doe-eyed about our city's fiscal woes, nor do they have a sense of entitlement to tax dollars. On the other hand, no one that I spoke to thought that our community would be better off with a 7-11 type business at Bay Road and Ringwood.
What I have found are:
- People who have grave concerns about the state of the city and county finances, often shaking their head in worry
- People who express the neighborhood's desperate need for Flood Park as a place to walk, meet neighbors and bring their children to play. And they'd like to see the park become an even stronger community resource.
- People who remember the park's history and are scared that if the park stays closed for too long, crime will return, property values will tank and a vicious cycle will start
- People who know that there is a solution out there that includes funding sources. And they are ready to figure it out.
In short, I found the community around the park is largely grounded in fiscal reality and they need a park and community center. They are open-minded, creative thinking and ready to figure out how to make it work. They'd like to speak to city officials and community members who are working in earnest to do the same.
While it's interesting and a little fun for most of us on this forum to scamper around under the cloak of anonymity and take jabs at each other, I'd hate for some of these anon comments to be construed as broad community discourse representative of residents' views.
I for one will take action to try to get neighbors and city officials to start talking face to face about real options (funding options, private/public partnerships, etc). I hope that you will do the same.
- one more anon posting
(but maybe I'll meet you this evening with my stroller)
Posted by Just another resident who likes Flood Park, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm
Can we not pattern Flood Park to Foothills Park? Only Palo Alto residents are allowed entry into Foothills Park. I would be willing to have an assessment added on to my tax bill for exclusive rights to the park. I don't think I would be the only one.
Posted by Moved here for Flood Park, a resident of the Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm
Thank you, "One more anon," for your action and concern.
I moved to Suburban Park when I had a toddler and a newborn. Having a park next door was a huge reason the neighborhood was chosen.
I loved having a place to go with the kids that I knew was an active, safe place to play and where I knew I would see a neighbor or meet another family.
Likely that is why Suburban Park is literally filled with families. There is an intangible, impossible to measure community benefit to having this park open.
The neighborhood improved with the park safety improving and sadly I believe it will deteriorate with the loss of the park. The improvement meant less money spent in public safety costs and the deterioration would mean more spent. It might be impossible to measure, but I firmly believe it makes fiscal sense to keep this park open.
Finding ways to keep it open whether its county or city owned and operated is critical. I disagree with Peter that this is a "pet project" and should take away from another program. I do agree that prioritizing is in order for city programs. Parks & Recreation space is a core mission for local government. Other items the city is involved in may or may not be, but I don't see why park supporters have to be put on the spot to identify those items when we have plenty of city management staff and a city council to weigh those alternatives.
I am very proud of my neighbors for staying focused on keeping the park open rather than attacking other programs!
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm
Moved here statesI am very proud of my neighbors for staying focused on keeping the park open rather than attacking other programs!"
And then Moved here does just that:""I do agree that prioritizing is in order for city programs. Parks & Recreation space is a core mission for local government. Other items the city is involved in may or may not be"
It is a zero sum game and any funds that are allocated to Flood Park MUST come from some place else that is already funded. When you get before the Council this is the FIRST question that you will be asked.
By the way, what percentage of Flood Park users are Menlo Park residents? If this percentage is not very high then why shouldn't you efforts be directed at the County to keep Flood Park open. Just because the County has 'offered' Food Park to the City does not relieve the County of the very sam responsibilities that many of you wish to place on the City.
Posted by Thomas, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm
The City of Menlo Park was faced with an even larger deficit in 2006...
"Council's Outsourcing a Hot Campaign Issue" The Almanac, October 24th, 2006. The town was facing a $1.8M shortfall five years ago and managed to survive.
The town council has always been resilient and I'm quite sure sees this as great opportunity rather than a fiscal liability. Mayor Cline seems to echo my opinion in his statements a couple of days ago to the San Jose Mercury News..."Menlo Park mayor says city should take-over county owned Flood Park".
Mr. Carpenter's description of a "Zero Sum Game" is just that...a game. There are plenty of cutbacks that can be made and saving Flood Park has the support of the town council.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 7:24 am
Thomas states:"There are plenty of cutbacks that can be made" True and plenty would have to be made BEFORE there would be a surplus to allocate to a new project.
Thomas states:" and saving Flood Park has the support of the town council." On council member's preference does not a majority make. And the Mayor does not speak for his colleagues.
Thomas states:"The town was facing a $1.8M shortfall five years ago and managed to survive." True, solely because it was also seeing 7-8% increases in property tax revenues - now is a very different time with property tax revenues flat and decreasing sales taxes.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm
Pensions for city workers were increased in 2007 when the economy was riding high and CALPERS returns were over 20%/year. The mistake was assuming those conditions would continue indefinitely.
The city is now presented with a great opportunity to acquire a wonderful neighborhood park at a time when the budget is stretched, as you say, by reduced property values and declining sales taxes. The mistake again would be to assume these conditions will continue indefinitely.
At some point in the next year or two, the economy will have turned around with both sales & property taxes again generating enough to cover city expenses. If we stretch now (through the creative thinking you called for and that I'm seeing displayed in other posts) we'll be rewarded for our foresight and creative belt-tightening with a wonderful park that will benefit the community for generations to come.
I don't know what the costs for upkeep of the park would be but someone above mentioned a figure of $200,000. That works out to be about $5 per resident. Surely we can figure a way to either raise that amount or squeeze it from the city's $38 million budget.
Of the top of my head:
- The city gets 55 days a year to use the new Performing Arts Center. Schedule a fund-raising concert for the the park featuring local talent and sell tickets at $20 per head. Assuming you could sell 1,000 tickets for two performances you've raised $20,000.
- Reduce the cost of maintenance - Instead of tending the other parks once a week, tend them every 1.1 weeks so that Flood Park can be covered with no additional cost and negligible aesthetic impact.
- Look carefully at the $2.5 million community development budget to see if some of the cost could be covered here.
- If, at the end, we had to call on the reserve fund to cover the remainder, it would be a small amount and would only be necessary until the economy returns.
It's often said that the best time to buy stocks is when everyone else is selling - perhaps that applies to parks too.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 8:00 am
Steve - excellent presentation. I suggest adding data on what percentage of current users are Menlo Park residents,desired improvements and their costs, and add in any potential on going revenue sources.
Any thoughts about restricting use of the park to Menlo Park residents as Palo Alto does with Foothill Park? If everyone can use it the rationale for it being a city park rather than a county park seems to lessen.
Posted by The V oice, a resident of the Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm
There is no veiled racism that is just nonsense. The question is who pays for what and who uses the park. Don't be so fast at throwing that stone. The county pays for upkeep of the park and the police department responds to calls. The police department will not pay for another officer to patrol a closed park because that is, on its face, not necessary. To blame a closed park on a dramatic increase increase in crime may not be totally relevant. There are many more factors involved that make that soup.
As for who uses the park I am not factually incorrect. Unless you can provide more than anecdotal evidence then your facts may be in dipute.
I agree do a study on cost, users and upkeep. I would suggest that the cost outweighs the benefit at this point. RDA funds are over and the state is going to pass even more costs off to the city.
Ultimatly, by no means should the park be developed however Menlo Park should not be made to take on another expense. Menlo Park continues to struggle with developing El Camino and keeping business open on Santa Cruz.
Reserve funds may not be the way to go but who knows? To collect fees at the gate means hiring someone to collect them. An added tax would be the way to go since the city budget is nearly in the red.
Flood park is not a zero sum gain its being prudent. To blame any one factor for the current city budget is just not true. Take everything into account and one will see why there is no money left. Its not all about pensions, property taxes, business taxes etc. It is everything together.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 11:52 pm
We are being offered 21 acres of prime real estate valued at well over $100 million in the heart of Menlo park. I think that we should be talking seriously with the county to understand what strings are attached.
Open land is the one thing that we can never make more of.
I've already heard a lot of creative suggestions to pay for the $200k operating expense and allow the park to operate without impacting the city's general fund. Some examples are:
- sell off part of the land for residential development to create a trust fund to cover operating expenses
- sell/lease a portion of the land to create a new public or charter school
- lease a portion of the land to a child care center
- allow some kind of concessions on the site (batting cages, a restaurant, pitch and putt, etc)
- use part of the land for a lighted playing field and lease it out to area sports leagues
- $20 per household per year assessment to go into a park district
- $1000 per million assessment on new residential construction to support the park district
- expected revenues from the nearby Menlo Gateway Project
- corporate sponsorships "Facebook Park"
- private donations (this is 1/10 what was raised for Burgess)
- require the county to pay a portion of the operating expenses during a transition period
- solicit support from Atherton and Redwood city in order to make the park available to their residents
- contract with a non-profit group such as the YMCA to run the park
The city should be putting together a committee or using one of its existing commissions to evaluate various ideas and generate a business plan to keep the park open.
If they don't have anyone who is capable of providing some leadership, then perhaps we can raise the $200k by eliminating one of the executive staff positions.