The town of Atherton is moving forward cautiously to examine a proposal by the Menlo Atherton Little League to rebuild, at its own expense, the ballpark at Holbrook-Palmer Park.
The City Council on Wednesday night (May 18) voted unanimously to allow the proposal to go before the Planning Commission, but some members made it clear that the league must work with local soccer and lacrosse leagues that also use the park in coming up with a plan that will work for everyone.
At least two council members and several residents who spoke indicated that they're not convinced that a spiffed-up ballpark would be appropriate for Atherton's only park.
Atherton resident Bob Hellman, whose Build Our Ballpark organization is backing the local league's effort to rebuild the ball field, presented a plan that includes a permanent back stop, seating, dugouts, scoreboard, restrooms, removable outfield fencing, and a Victorian-style grandstand. It also includes a complete overhaul of turf, drainage, and irrigation, and a commitment for ongoing care and maintenance.
The projected cost is $500,000, which includes funding for other park improvements included in the proposal, such as tennis court resurfacing ($75,000), extension of the nearby parking lot ($50,000), and park beautification ($50,000).
The existing baseball field is part of an expanse of land in the park now used for daytime practice and games by a number of youth sports teams. Little League supporters say, however, that the existing field is in the poorest condition and is the least safe of all the fields the league uses.
A number of people spoke in favor of letting the proposal go forward to the Planning Commission to work out details.
There were also speakers involved with AYSO soccer and the local lacrosse organization who noted that they hadn't known about the plan's development over the nine months the league says it has worked on it. They urged the council to go slowly in reviewing the plan and to consider the needs of all park users in making its decision.
Go to Town of Atherton and find Item No. 17 to learn more about the proposal.