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.