Neighbors fight to protect Flood Park

Crowd brainstorms how to save neighborhood resource

What is a neighborhood park worth? San Mateo County estimates $205,000. To those living near Flood Park, the figure is more along the lines of priceless.

About 100 people crowded into Jill Olson's living room on April 28 to brainstorm ways to keep Flood Park open without straining either the county or the city budget. The group included representatives from the county.

Faced with needing to trim 10 percent from its operating budget, the county Board of Supervisors recommended permanently shutting down the 21-acre park, located at 215 Bay Road, which is closed until September 30 anyway while the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission installs a water pipeline. They also asked Menlo Park to consider taking over park operations.

Suburban Park Homeowner Association President and meeting facilitator Kristin Cox, who has visited the park since moving to the neighborhood four years ago, said the meeting wasn't about debating the viability of ideas. "We're not park rangers. We're moms and dads and community members who love the park," she said.

Ms. Cox said one idea is keeping the playground and picnic area open while fencing off the remainder of the park. Another is starting a nonprofit along the modeled after Friends of Bedwell-Bayfront Park.

Amy McGaraghan, who manages the Save Flood Park website, said that since the park is closed, it's been hard to reach out to everyone uses it.

"I was saddened that it sounds like the county parks commission isn't going to change its recommendation (to close the park), that was certainly disappointing, but I was glad they were willing to come talk to us and do some outreach," she said.

Other proposals included charging walk-in park visitors; staging a concert series or other fundraisers at the park; citizen rangers; and using volunteer general contractors to make improvements to develop more sports fields at the park, according to Ms. McGaraghan.

"We used the park every day. We have young kids; that's their backyard," she said. "We're going to continue doing everything we can to tell the county and city we want the park open."

Can a city have too many parks? Mayor Rich Cline suggested that Menlo Park may be approaching the time to focus on strategic resource management instead of acquisition, now that the city has a new gym, recreational center, performing arts center, and expanded pool service at Burgess and Belle Haven.

With Flood Park, the city would also have Hillview, Kelly, Burgess parks with full soccer or lacrosse fields, and two adult baseball fields, according to the mayor's tally.

"If we miss this opportunity we will look back in disappointment. But, at the same time, we have to aware that we have to determine the balance of recreational space and resource and passive use parks," he said.

Click here to track the group's efforts.

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Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Flood Park is a great park and it would be criminal to lose it. It's heck of a lot closer to MP residents than Bayfront Park and a lot safer to walk or bicycle to. Don't let the developers get!
MP has very few parks and West MP between between Fremont Park and Sharon/Stanford Hills parks has no parks at all. Unfortunately land is so expensive the likelihood of acquiring even a quarter acre for a neighborhood park is nonexistent.
A large portion of Menlo Park property is owned by religious entities, the Catholic church being perhaps the largest landowner in the city. In general religious orgs pay no property taxes perhaps the church would consider allowing a public park or two on their lands as a thank you to the residents for the free lunch the church has been enjoying for so many years. Just a thought.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

Flood Park is terrific 21-acre gem that is zoned as open space in the middle of suburbia. Picnicers, BBQers, and summer campers will miss it this summer while it's closed for aquaduct upgrades. It would be a shame to lose it's wooded beauty all together. The oak trees are in great shape!

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2011 at 11:22 am

I am very impressed by the efforts of the community to save Flood Park.
A well organized and large group of residents who have a viable plan for running this park on a break even basis has a good chance of success.

I would be pleased to make a contribution to your effort if you post the necessary information as to whom to send a contribution.

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Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Subdividing Flood Park into residential lots offers an exciting fiscal opportunity to the City of Menlo Park!

Flood Park lies within the Menlo Park Redevelopment Agency area! It was declared a blighted area back in 1981. What foresight! This means that the Redevelopment Agency would get ALL the new property tax. 21 acres of nice new homes would be millions a year. About half the usual share of tax would go to the Fire Department and County -- and nothing more to the schools!

Unfortunately, Flood Park technically lies in the Ravenswood School District, which would require kids to head over to Willow Oaks or across the freeway to go to school. This might reduce sales prices (hence property taxes) a bit. But, using the Pacific Townhouse lawsuit as a model, the City could probably get a forced transfer into MPCSD, which would increase sales prices, hence property taxes, even more.

Theoretically, the City is supposed to use the incremental revenue for blight reduction -- so it could do absolutely fabulous things for Belle Haven -- and, using the model of other cities, fund a lot of other City services 'through the back door,' as it were.

What are trees and grass and things compared to lovely green money that is entirely under the control of an obscure local agency?!!

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

Flood Park is a wonderful space that should be kept open. Menlo Park should take it over and propose a $30.00 per parcel City Park Fee and put it up for a vote of residents. As the City expands with more and more families with small children, open space and parks are immensely important and we all should collectively support our community in this regard. This is a community that can afford it!

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

A parcel tax which would only benefit Flood Park is unfair to the majority of MP residents who have other city parks near their homes.
Rather than a parcel tax make it admission free to Menlo Park residents (proof of Menlo Park City residency required) and impose a non-resident fee of say $2 per person or $10 per vehicle. And continue group picnic area fees, baseball field fees etc (with a discount for MP City residents).

Like this comment
Posted by buy it
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 4, 2011 at 9:11 am

Menlo Park has collected funds for parks from developers who did not provided onsite parks when they added density. These funds should be used to purchase Flood Park, and fees from future development should pay for ongoing upkeep. This is a rare opportunity to provide more recreational space for our community. By all means do not develop this land! Where would future parks be created?
Charge fees for non-MP residents, like rich folks from Atherton, who use our facilities and don't contribute to their upkeep.

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Posted by Rob
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 9, 2011 at 12:10 am

Several of the previous letters have suggested that Menlo Park should buy Flood Park from the county and charge non-residents an entrance fee. Since the early 1930's Flood Park, which has primarily benefited Menlo Park residents, has been paid for by the residents of all of San Mateo County, from Daly City to Pescadero. If Menlo Park buys Flood Park for some token amount, it would be unfair to charge non-residents an additional fee over what Menlo Park residents are charged.

Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Menlo Park is one of the most expensive zip codes in the world... Can we really not afford to keep our park open???

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

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