Publication Date: Wednesday, November 02, 2005
(November 02, 2005)
Bayfront proposal deserves consideration
I was disappointed to see only a negative viewpoint presented in last week's Almanac regarding the proposal to build playing fields and a golf course on part of Bayfront Park. Here are some facts:
The golf course developer (Highlands Golf) will pay all capital costs associated with the new soccer fields and baseball diamond. Menlo Park will save the $4 million to $5 million cost of constructing such facilities itself. Considering our severe shortage of play fields, this is a huge bonus of the project.
* Highlands will pay for the required environmental impact report, estimated to cost $400,000. The environmental impact of this proposal will be thoroughly examined.
* Extensive public outreach will occur through various city commissions and state and local bodies. This proposal is not being conducted in a stealth fashion as some would accuse. City staff was instructed by our council to investigate ways to offset the ongoing costs at Bayfront, and to address a need for fields for youth and adult sports. This topic has been a regular item of discussion at Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council meetings.
* No land will be sold.
* Over half of the park area, including the perimeter and western hills, will remain in its current undeveloped state.
* The city will lease the land to the private developer and at the end of the lease, all facilities will be owned by the city.
This proposal deserves a fair shake, not fear-based misinformation.
Politzer Drive, Menlo Park
Golf course at Bayfront Park a great idea
The proposal to create a golf course and athletic fields on one half of Bayfront Park is a great idea, for so many reasons.
I can understand some people bristling when they hear the words "develop" and "golf course," but if you look at the fine points of this proposal, and how it would benefit the entire population of Menlo Park in so many ways, it is such a wonderful opportunity. Points that jump out to me are:
* A golf course and three athletic fields would be created on approximately 80 acres of Bayfront Park, with the other 80 acres maintained as open space, as it is. This is 50 percent open use, 50 percent recreational use. (I think many people think the whole area would be developed.)
* Highlands Golf would pay for design, the environmental impact report and the construction costs. This represents $200,000 to $400,000 for the impact report and in the range of $4 million for construction that Menlo Park would not pay, and for that matter does not have.
* As it stands today, the annual maintenance of Bayfront is nearly $200,000 per year, which is currently covered by the Bayfront maintenance fund, where the only revenue is based on interest earnings and will only last eight or nine years. (We need a long-term solution, which the recreation facilities would provide.)
* The facilities would be revenue-generating. (Need I say more.)
* The three proposed athletic fields would be lighted and have artificial turf. (No watering or run-off).
* The developer would lease the land from the city, not own.
* Above and beyond the desperate need of more athletic fields, is that this area would open up so many opportunities for kids and adults alike, for all ages and from all economic backgrounds. Not to mention that golf has become a "hot " sport for kids across the nation.
* Open space visitors would still be able to enjoy the open space, on the nearly 80 acres that will left untouched.
This seems like a win-win.
Claremont Way, Menlo Park
Another view about Bayfront Park
To counter what I consider misinformation recently distributed, here are what I consider facts about the proposed Bay Front Park changes.
In 1981, this 160-acre landfile (garbage dump) was given by San Mateo County to Menlo Park with a special limited fund of money for landfill maintenance. That fund is dwindling; however, the annual cost of $187,000, plus $380,000 tucked into our garbage fees, plus a $500,000 fee for big landfill maintenance every three years - will continue.
Since early 2002, city staff has sought a way to offset these costs. Now, Mayor Mickie Winkler and our City Council can take a golden opportunity to make this landfill a pleasurable recreational destination for all ages in an environmentally sensitive way. The proposed project would develop the interior landfill with a golf course, parking area and playing fields using 82 of the 160 acres. Half the area (the perimeter) will remain open space for walkers and bicyclists.
Revenues from the golf course will help offset the costs. The city gets playing fields, valued at $5 million for free. Thousands of people will get to enjoy this park and will also be exposed to the great Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge to the south.
What is now (in my opinion) a forbidding location will be transformed into an environment welcoming to families and those who would choose a safe environment to walk or bike. How can this be a bad solution for Menlo Park and surrounding communities?
Hermosa Way, Menlo Park
A gift of books for Louisiana
In the midst of a very successful Menlo Park Book Fair 2005, four very talented volunteers, two former library commissioners and two representatives of the younger generation collaborated to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Aldora Lee, longtime Friend, commissioner and charter member of the library foundation, recruited this talented group, including Anne McQueen, a former commissioner and current school librarian, and the granddaughters of outstanding volunteers and Friends, John and Joan Inglis, Jerusha and Kasey Inglis. In their own youthful volunteerism, they represented the kindergarten-eighth grade generation very well.
These four selected and set aside gently used, age-appropriate books during the bag sale at the Book Fair on September 18. The books then were packed, weighed and prepared for shipping. After inquiries, Aldora went on the Internet seeking a school library home for these books. On the same day, just hours after the message was sent, a request came from a K-8 school district that had been hit by Katrina and had lost their main warehouse; the district now had an alternate address in Baton Rouge, an indication that their recovery was going to take some time. They were starting from scratch.
Two days later the Friends of the Menlo Park Library mailed four boxes (120 pounds of youth books) to Baton Rouge. In so doing, the Friends joined the efforts of Corte Madera and Caesar Chavez Academy in working to help schoolchildren in that hurricane-devastated area
Aldora has received additional requests for help, and her wish is to help restore a valuable infrastructure. Perhaps a network like the group who helped Kepler's might develop locally for Katrina-impacted schools. The needs of even one school district seem a daunting challenge, but obviously many good people are willing to help.
Friends of the Library
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