News

Flood Park costs could hit $595,000 a year

City expenses estimated nearly three times as high as county

When San Mateo County asked Menlo Park to take over Flood Park in hopes of saving the park from closure, the city decided to do its homework before saying yes. The Menlo Park Parks and Recreation Commission will consider the resulting staff report at a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

It looks like running the 21-acre park on Bay Road could cost the city $595,000 a year, nearly three times as much as the county paid for maintenance, according to a city staff report. In addition, there could be up to $20 million in one-time costs for renovations such as adding a drainage system to the parking lot.

The report attributes the higher costs in part to a projected increase in park use and the need to maintain it at the same level as other city parks.

The park closed to let the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission install water pipeline. But faced with a demand to cut 10 percent from the county's operating budget, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at first recommended permanently shutting the park down.

The board then reversed course, and approved enough funding to keep the park open until March 2012.

City staff is asking the parks commission to consider whether the city truly needs more open space. If it does, where should the money come from? Can the new nonprofit, the Friends of Flood Park, help?

The Parks and Recreation Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center at 700 Alma St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center.

The City Council will then hold a study session on Dec. 13 to review the options.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by friend of flood park
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

This article is misleading as to the capital costs. The $20 million price tag refers to a whole host of capital costs which may or may not be done, including renovation of the baseball fields, tennis courts, and repair and rebuilding of structures which may or may not be required. Many of these improvements could be made (if warranted) through private-public partnerships. I have heard of numerous organizations that would be interested in investing with the city on improved sports facilities in Menlo Park.

A full renovation of the parking lot - including brand new drainage system to prevent further decay - will not cost $20 million, rather it is $2 million. BUT this is not even required for many years, as the SFPUC has agreed to repave the entire the parking lot (which their pipeline runs beneath) once their project is complete.

The operating costs reported here are accurate as to the report, but the estimations in the report are at the high end in every case. For example, the report calls for Rangers to enforce the parking permits issued by the parking kiosk. Why would Menlo Park not use its existing parking enforcement (meter maids) to handle this? The report also calls for hiring a new city employee to manage the party permits for Flood Park (over 500 per year.) Why not automate this system? Do we really need to throw more headcount at this activities, headcount that comes with health care coverage and pension obligations?

The article states "The report attributes the higher costs in part to a projected increase in park use..." Very true. But where are the increased projected revenues from this park use calculated? Parking fees, permit fees, revenue from sports teams using the facilities? It is not a complete picture to report on costs without considering the increased revenues which will offset those costs with greater park use.

Do we need more parkland in Menlo Park? Yes, we do. Even with the new turf fields at Kelly Park and soon Hillview Middle School, our kids teams and leagues do not have nearly the park space and field options of neighboring communities like Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos. And we are the only one that actually has "Park" in our city name. Go figure.


Like this comment
Posted by A voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

So, Menlo Park, do we have the money for this? If not, what programs/staff are we all willing to cut to pay for it. Even if we do none of the improvements, can we afford to maintain it at close to $600,000 a year? Or, are we willing to tax ourselves to pay for it?


Like this comment
Posted by Jose
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

It's a white elephant. Jut the type f money sinkhole Menlo Park staff likes.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Talk of cutting programs is being used as a red herring. If the city staff and city council are willing to take some time to figure out how to accept the gift of 21 acres of Menlo Park real estate in a fiscally responsible way, they can do it.

Public/private partnerships for example. Parties have stepped up to say that they would do the field renovations and management. There are definitely ways to do this that would not make other programs suffer. The city just needs to be willing to help figure it out.


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

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