A master plan for the future development of Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park was adopted by the Atherton City Council on May 20. The plan envisions adding features such as an amphitheater, a rain garden and an off-leash dog park, and moving the preschool to near the existing Gilmore House near the park entrance.
The plan includes a five-year capital improvement budget, which the council will consider separately, along with the rest of the town's capital budget. Items in the plan for the next five years add up to a little over $558,000 in costs, and include studying the relocation of the town's corporation yard and the preschool, a new turn-around in the parking lot for the Jennings Pavilion, and improving the entrance to the park by removing an unused driveway and the barriers that now block its use. The five-year plan also includes renovating the park's shrub plantings, repairing and improving park paths and adding lighting near paths.
Council members suggested that when they consider the capital improvement budget they may make some changes to the Park and Recreation Committee's five-year spending plan. Mayor Rick DeGolia said he wanted to add some items, such as moving the corporation yard. Mr. DeGolia said he wants "to be more aggressive than is stated in this master plan."
"I agree with you on that," said council member Elizabeth Lewis.
The issue of moving the preschool is one that will need to be addressed quickly by the town, because the council on May 20 also approved a plan to move the town's building and planning offices temporarily into the park until their new offices are ready when the planned civic center is built.
Town officials say the temporary trailers now used as offices for building and planning won't last through another winter without some work, and the offices should be relocated to the park as quickly as possible.
Council members said they want whatever structure is used in the park for the temporary building and planning offices to be suitable for use by the relocated preschool, but they also said they want them to look good. "We want something that looks like it belongs in the park," said City Manager George Rodericks.
Space now used by the preschool, next to the park's historic carriage house, is designated on the plan as "potential parking" for as many as 20 vehicles and "potential open space."
The council approved creating a master plan for the park in spring of 2013, and the work began in September of that year. Town residents, organizations and park users were surveyed and several public hearings held.
The master plan says the 22-acre park was given to the town in 1950 by Olive Holbrook-Palmer, but not accepted by the town until 1964 "with the provision that the development of the property would be funded by donations."
Before it became Holbrook-Palmer Park, the property was known as Elmwood.
The vote on the master plan was nearly unanimous. Council member Bill Widmer said he offered less than a full vote of approval. "I am for everything but moving the playschool, so partial approval for me," he said.