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June 16, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2004

St. Patrick's Seminary won't sell land for soccer fields St. Patrick's Seminary won't sell land for soccer fields (June 16, 2004)

** City still studying sports facilities at Bayfront Park.

By Rebecca Wallace
Almanac Staff Writer

Even though some Menlo Park city officials hoped to build two community soccer fields at St. Patrick's Seminary, the seminary has decided not to sell the 5 acres in question.

After recently completing a master plan for St. Patrick's, seminary officials concluded that they could not part with the land and instead may use it either for seminary athletic facilities or faculty housing, said Father Gerald Coleman, president and rector.

Located on the seminary's verdant 42-acre property, the land borders Middlefield Road and the main Menlo Park Fire Protection District station. The seminary previously sold 43 acres in 1995 for $22 million to help it out of a financial crisis; the Vintage Oaks housing development now sits there.

Bayfront Park

Mayor Lee Duboc said she was disappointed that the city would not be able to buy the land, saying there's a continuing need for more playing fields in Menlo Park. So now the only likely option for new fields is Bayfront Park at the end of Marsh Road, she said.

City officials have been meeting with several groups with proposals for "more active sports uses" at the 160-acre park, which has hills, flat areas, and sweeping views of San Francisco Bay.

One of the proposals seemed promising and will come before the council in a public meeting this summer, Ms. Duboc said. It involves leaving about half of Bayfront undeveloped and putting soccer, softball and golf facilities elsewhere in the park.

While Ms. Duboc declined to name the group, she said she was excited about its plan and said that it could also include 60 to 80 new jobs. Ideally, residents of the nearby Belle Haven neighborhood would get first crack at the jobs, she added.

City officials had also hoped to use the St. Patrick's Seminary land for an underground water storage tank, but Ms. Duboc said she thought the city would now explore options elsewhere.

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