News

School board edges M-A closer to night games

 

The long tradition of daytime-only football games at Menlo-Atherton High School is under intensifying scrutiny.

As wary Atherton neighbors argue for a go-slow approach out of concern for unwanted noise, light and possibly crime intruding into their community during night games, M-A's football and lacrosse boosters are pushing for lights.

The idea gained momentum last October, when M-A hosted Sacred Heart Preparatory High School in an experimental night football game that proved both popular and profitable.

The governing board of the Sequoia Union High School District moved things along on Wednesday, Jan. 20, by unanimously approving a $31,000 two-month environmental-impact study by Menlo Park-based TRA Environmental Sciences.

The study will assume the use of permanent lights and will include conversations with all stakeholders, including neighbors, officials at M-A, and possibly contacts in local government in Menlo Park and Atherton, school district spokeswoman Bettylu Smith said via e-mail.

In a nod to the complexity of the issue, the Sequoia board in its initial look at the matter in November had discussed the possibility of long-term use of temporary lights.

Portable generator-driven lights run about $2,500 per use, Ms. Smith said. Clean and quiet "higher quality" temporary lights tied to the electrical grid would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, she said.

Permanent lights would cost the district about $250,000.

Comments

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Posted by MPMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I love the idea of lights and evening games. Evening sporting events are a great way to build school community and give youth a wholesome way to socialize. There will be plenty of opposition from neighbors but the school board should make their decision based on what's best for the student community. The lights dovetail nicely with the eventual(?) shift of school start and dismissal times too.


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Posted by MPMom#2
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

OMG - $31000 to study this? can't we spend the money on something more worthwhile?


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Posted by menlores
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm

menlores is a registered user.

Some one mentioned the increase in crime and such. Are they referring to the spoiled children in and around the high school? Or the students from East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto? Is there a bit of a social/economic overtone if they are referring to the students from "the other side of 101". This question of lights at M-A have been going around for years and it is time for the school district to think about the school community instead of the residents who purchased their inflated properties around M-A. Fortunately the school district doesn't need to have the approval of the residents near the M-A campus. Just do it! It is long overdue.....


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Posted by E, Moritz
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Let me give a big AMEN!! to what MPMom said.

I moved my family to Menlo Park in 1979. Two of our sons attended M A High. They were athletic active in wrestling, soccer, water polo and football. We attended when we could, in the afternoons and weekends.

Our third son arrived later in life. He went through the 4th grade at Oak Knoll School and then my job took our family to Ann Arbor, MI. We were exposed to a fantastic public school music program (5th grade through high school) and the awesome experience of Friday night football. In the fall when the lights went on, home games were a community experience. Students, alumni, parents and members of the local neighborhood all gathered for fun and community spirit.

Full disclosure..... I'm biased by the fact that my 3rd son started on the varsity team his junior and senior year. So a Friday night schedule enable me to attend all his games. In fact, I entered the schedule into my calendar each spring when the schedule for the following fall was announced. It was great for player parents, and I have to think the players gained, whether they recognized it or not, by having their parents present and involved

I was always impressed by how the volunteers that helped sell tickets and refreshments were a mix of parents and retirees. The school marching band, from that wonderful music program, was another part of the experience. the stands were also filled with their parents, family and friends.

We returned to Menlo Park at the beginning of 2008. Our sons are well beyond high school now.

Sure, in this tough economic environment spending money on lights is a difficult sell. But I urge every effort be made to make this happen. The community is missing out on a wonderful experience and tradition. And so are the athletes and the parents of those athletes.

Go Bears!


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Posted by Willy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

"OMG - $31000 to study this? can't we spend the money on something more worthwhile?"

Absolutely. Good call!

Forget the study! Do what Woodside HS did: just put the lights in (w/o bothering the neighbors with a study!)

Forgo the study, find donations, erect the lights!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

menlores states:"Fortunately the school district doesn't need to have the approval of the residents near the M-A campus. Just do it! It is long overdue....."

It is true that the school district does not need the LEGAL approval of the residents near the M-A campus, but wouldn't it be nice if there was outreach by the School Board to its neighbors on this and other high impact issues?

Government decisions made without consideration of and input from those impacted are arrogant and will ultimately backfire.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wise leader, and sometimes even elected public officials, understand the value of Win-Win solutions. It is hard to have a Win-Win solution if you don't even know what the other side considers to be important.

Why not explore different type of light standards, different heights, different placements, different shielding and the rules of use with the neighbors who will be impacted by those lights? Just because you don't have to doesn't mean that you shouldn't. Why be arrogant - "the school district doesn't need to have the approval of the residents near the M-A campus" - when you can be gracious and cooperative?

Exercising Wisdom is much more powerful than exercising Power.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

Being arrogant and just putting in the lights with no consideration of the neighbors is par for the course for the Sequoia Union board. The lights and artificial turf at Woodside HS were put in with no study, consideration, etc and, despite earlier promises, are on 4-5 nights per week, not just for the actual home football games.

There are football practices, soccer practices, other practices, the field is leased for other schools to use when Woodside doesn't have a home game, and best of all non-school programs (like Pop Warner) often rent it and have loud events running from 8am until 9 or 10pm on weekends.

If the lights and artificial turf just enabled use by Woodside HS events, it would not be a big deal. But MA neighbors should expect exactly the same behavior as Woodside HS, which is to say HEAVY use virtually every day and night of the year.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Here we go again. Different subject, same old story----"cause we don't have to". Everyone can save a lot of brain damage on this one. Just find out what Pat Gemma wants, lights or no lights, and move on--because that is how he works, and the district board is full of his puppets. And he won an award for COLLABORATION. What a joke.


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Posted by Craziness
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I think these are somewhat funny posts. Everyone believes that if the school officials were not arrogant, or considerate, everything would be "fine". Are YOU KIDDING ME?? School officials have enough to deal with, with crazy parents, I don't blame them for not wanting to deal with crazy neighbors! These neighbors would push every available button to not allow lights, including legal action, city/town council action etc., if they could. It is very difficult to find any "reasonable neighbor" next to a school, anywhere around here, just ask the neighbors of Oak Knoll or Hillview. Neighbors that bought next to a school, so that their home prices can appreciate, while the school continues to put out a great education.
Can you say: NIMBY
Make the decision Mr. Gemma, put up the lights, you have every right to do so, don't worry about what the NIMBYS, have to say!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Craziness still hasn't shown how working WITH the neighbors to pick the best lights, the best light locations and the best rules of operation won't allow the school district to make a better decision.

And the school board might just want to consider what would happen if the residents started demanding that the Atherton Police rigidly enforcing parking and traffic regulations at the school plus adding some new restrictions prohibiting drop offs and mid-block U turns.

All the power does not reside with the school board - the high school IS an island and it would be well served to be surrounded by friends rather than unnecessary enemies.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let me give an example of a Win-Win solution.

When the Fire Board decided it needed operational additional space at its headquarters on Middlefield Road we went and talked to EVERY neighbor living near the site. Based on their feedback we abandoned our original expansion plan and instead pursued an alternate plan and site. In doing so we saved millions of dollars by converting an existing commercial building into administrative space and thereby freeing up much more expensive operational space in the existing headquarters building.

Win-Win


Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Is there ANY issue out there that you don't have an answer for, Pete?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 2:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just wondering asks:"Is there ANY issue out there that you don't have an answer for, Peter?"

Yes, there are lots of issues for which I don't have an ANSWER - but as a citizen I feel it is my responsibility to engage in respectful dialogue and to offer my OPINION on issues of importance. My opinion is only as good as my underlying facts and logic, and others are free to provide alternative opinions.

The better question is why more citizens do not engage in these discussions on the Town Square Forum thereby enriching the debate?
One reason is that many of the postings are not as respectful and truthful as our host has requested.

Democracy is served by a good, respectful debate.


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Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I see that my previous post has been taken down with no explanation given.

I guess that's the power you get when the newspaper does a cover story on you, eh, Peter?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 30, 2010 at 4:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just Wondering - I would appreciate your assistance. Can you find some more people to help improve the quality and quantity of dialogue on the Town Square Forum?
Qualifications are:
1 - willing to register and post in their real name so as to enable readers to evaluate their source credibility.
2 - knowledgeable about the subject matters on which they elect to post.
3 - prepared to offer opinions which are supported by facts.
4 - prepared to engage others in a respectful dialogue on the specific issue in a particular thread.
5 - willing to accept that anonymous posters, who love to attack people with real names and real ideas, will make ad hominem cheap shots that have nothing to do the issue being discussed by others.

Your help on this would assist the Town Square Forum in continuing to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

[Post removed; disrespectful, personal attacks violate terms of use]


Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm

So on the thread about fire sprinklers, POGO calls Pete insufferable - and it still stands - but here it gets deleted????


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just Wandering - note the admonition -"Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."

I am sure that any substantive on topic thoughts delivered in a truthful and respectful way will not be deleted


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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