Protesters picket at Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park

Concrete being poured for Little League bleachers

At least six people carrying protest signs picketed at the entrance to Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park on Tuesday, as the town began pouring concrete for bleachers at the park's Little League baseball field.

Wally Sleeth, who organized the protest, said trucks had entered the park despite the picketers. "We're not lying down in front of them," he said.

One sign read: "Atherton is going concrete - is that what you want? Call Mayor DeGolia." Another read: "Do you want a concrete park? Call Mayor DeGolia." The group, which attracted a number of passersby who joined in, also handed out pamphlets outlining their opposition to the work in the park.

Mayor DeGolia, reached by phone Tuesday morning, said no residents had called after seeing the signs.

The town plans another, larger, concrete pour on Friday, expected to take place between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Atherton Public Works Superintendent Steven Tyler said the concrete will form the bleacher structure's foundation.

Mayor DeGolia said that even if he had received dozens of calls, there is "nothing I can do."

The efforts to stop the construction on the field have come too late, he said. "I have repeatedly informed Mr. Sleeth that if he didn't want the Little League facility in the park, then he should have timed his efforts before 75 percent of the town voted to upgrade the field, add electricity and water to that part of the park and build a permanent seating area," Mr. DeGolia said.

One of the protesters, Sandy Crittenden, who serves on the board of the Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundation and also on the town's Park and Recreation Committee, said he supports youth sports in the park, and loves "baseball in all forms." "I don't feel this stadium is the right structure for our only town park," he said. "It is not in keeping with the natural and rural setting."

Mr. Crittenden said this was the first time either he or Mr. Sleeth have ever picketed anything.

Mr. Sleeth said there are other nearby sites for Little League games. "There's plenty of baseball fields over at Flood Park," he said. The plans for the Little League field in Holbrook-Palmer Park have "been upsetting because the residents, the Parks and Rec (committee) and the Planning Commission said no to this."

Stopping construction would not harm the baseball league, Mr. Sleeth said. "The Little League's not really going to be hurt because they've got other parks they can use."

A project to make major improvements to the field was one of the measures on the Atherton ballot in 2012, along with the issue of putting a new library in the park. Voters overwhelmingly approved the Little League project, but after the vote, debate arose over just what the voters had said yes to.

The Planning Commission asked to have several aspects of the project changed, especially the size of the bleacher structure, but a divided City Council in January 2014 approved the project with only minor modifications.

Construction on the Little League field began in November, and league representatives said they hope to be able to use it by mid-February.

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28 people like this
Posted by Tgoode
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:17 pm

There are not plenty of baseball fields at Flood Park, Mr. Sleeth. There is one adult field. No field for kids. Holbrook-Palmer will be a great venue for young families to enjoy the park.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This project is a great reminder that concerned citizens must get involved before decisions are made and need to read the fine print. Who would have imagined that the Town Council would ignore the input of the Planning Commission but the wording of the ballot measure allowed that to happen. We all now have to live with the result.

Next time concerned citizens should do a worst case analysis of any ballot measure and vote it down if it leaves loopholes.

19 people like this
Posted by athertonmom
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Very excited to have an updated venue so close for our young boys to play in and go watch games at. Baseball is so important to us and its great that we'll have it in our backyard.

18 people like this
Posted by Gretchen Wyatt
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 13, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Atherton is a small town which relies on its citizens for taxes to support community needs (schools, parks, roads, etc), as well as participating in local life (filling its school seats, enjoying those parks, etc.) If we want Atherton to grow and prosper, we need to make our town more attractive to young families (and hopefully long-term, tax paying citizens) who will care for and invest in Atherton for the future. As a mother of children who have grown up here, I am so happy that Atherton has voted and approved a plan to make an improvement in such a vital park for this town. Anyone with children here knows that field space is VERY limited, and families often often have to travel far away to play games. Improving ONE baseball field, and adding a small set of stands to that field (a "stadium" it is NOT), is a nice gesture to the next generation. One only needs to look as far as Burgess Park in Menlo Park. Their small set of stands and improved baseball field is a beloved venue by local families who come to watch kids enjoying America's game. We're not talking "Manhattan" style concrete here. And who knows, you might walk over in the springtime, find a nice spot in the bleachers, eat a hot dog while watching a game and have a good time.

15 people like this
Posted by Cynic
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

These were the supporters of the library in the park, the measure that lost. They're now protesting the use of concrete to build the baseball facility.

What did they think they were going to build the new library out of? Paper mache?

17 people like this
Posted by Hyperbolic Mac
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:25 pm

"Do you want a concrete park?"

Are they pulling out ALL the dirt and grass!?!?!?


Those poor kids will have to play baseball on CONCRETE now!!!!!!!

It's gonna hurt when they slide into second, on a concrete basepath.

And those kids who fall from the swingset onto CONCRETE are going to get an "ow-wee".

1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Unrest? In stately Atherton?

What is this world coming to???

8 people like this
Posted by DL
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 13, 2015 at 3:49 pm

To follow up on Tgoode's comment, not only is there only one adult baseball field at Flood Park (and no "kids" fields), it has been in complete disrepair since the state used it a few years ago as a parking spot for industrial equipment for the Hetch-Hetchy Aqueduct repair project.

The state then gave San Mateo Parks & Rec $500k to replace the field, but Parks & Rec spent it to repair the parking lot instead.

So the baseball field at Flood Park isn't actually usable for anything other than maybe as dog park - although dogs aren't allowed either (for reasons no one can explain, but perhaps Mr. Sleeth argued there were plenty of dog parks elsewhere?).

13 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Whenever I see anyone describe Atherton as "rural" I roll my eyes. Atherton is not rural. As Peter Carpenter has described his family's English village, I can tell you that in my family's experience "rural" means that one has to drive twelve miles to pick up the mail or buy a quart of milk, and that the land is zoned in a way that a pig farm can move in next door without having to ask anyone for permission.

Why should Atherton expect to only use the facilities that other people have paid for? I think it's entirely appropriate for Atherton do its fair share.

5 people like this
Posted by rural durble
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm



Good one!

15 people like this
Posted by Liesl Moldow
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 13, 2015 at 4:24 pm

With other communities dealing with failing schools, crime, and injustice, it seems a bit petty to protest a concrete truck. A truck laying the foundation for a community baseball field that brings families together and teaches our children life long skills.

Nothing more natural than a vibrant park full of fans and families. Not sure what there is to protest. Drop the sign and engage with your community. Better to carry a hot dog then a grudge...

5 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 13, 2015 at 5:57 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

snooze and loose. About time Atherton USED their town for baseball and not every other cities facilities.

5 people like this
Posted by Must Be Kidding
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Atherton is ANYTHING but rural. That's pretty funny; the town surrounded by a concrete wall.

Like this comment
Posted by Memories
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Must Be Kidding - Home Depot must've been out of wattle and daub when the concrete walk was erected :-)

13 people like this
Posted by pro baseball
a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:34 am

ha - these are the guys that yell at kids to "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

5 people like this
Posted by Chris Preimesberger
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:40 am

It's about time that the city finally decided to make the fence, backstop and bleachers permanent over in the far corner of the park -- which affects no residents whatsoever. I've always thought it ridiculous that the baseball league had to construct and deconstruct the backstop and fence each year merely to placate complainers who have no better way to expend their negative energy.

10 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 14, 2015 at 8:54 am

[part removed.]

Perhaps these concerned Atherton Townies should protest the 5+ year swamp area near the children's play structure.

Congratulations Atherton for approving a playable surface for the children.

Like this comment
Posted by SWJ
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

SWJ is a registered user.

What seems to have been forgotten is that the Town from the beginning has tried to sustain and preserve our natural Habitat. Our 'heritage' is of Town officials upholding the idea of a "rural community with a country feeling". A concrete bunker is not part of that heritage.

Mr. Crittenden and I are in favor of baseball being played in Holbrook Palmer Park; it has been used for such for over 10 years. We both played Little League as boys. What we and many others find objectionable was the complete lack of concern for the residents' views of the plans, which were expressed by both the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Planning Commission. Both bodies voted against the plans the Menlo Atherton Little League had proposed, but the Council, by a 3-2 vote, voted to allow the Little League to proceed with plans that included, although they would probably deny it now, a monolithic concrete pour to create the support structure and seating. The vote on Measure M is really irrelevant. It was a confusing Ballot Measure, with absolutely no mention of a concrete structure. The Council is likely to be surprised as to how monolithic the structure is. A real need for a structure holding over 200 spectators was never shown. If it is ever fully used it will interfere with many other uses of the Park on weekends.

It was objectionable that the MALL was given a 'pass' on a review under the Park's Master Plan. That still should be demanded. Peter Carpenter may be correct we will have to live with it, but a lesson learned is that no wiser policy than complete transparency and close attention should be paid to the Town's resident led Committees and Commissions. The Council was 'sucked' into this and they are likely to regret it.

Walter Sleeth (A resident of the Lindenwood Neighbor hood)

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