Menlo Park: What's ahead for Bedwell Bayfront Park?

Open house set for Saturday, June 17

Menlo Park has begun a process to develop a 25-year "master plan" for the city's largest park, the 160-acre Bedwell Bayfront Park off Marsh Road.

An open house to collect public comment on what should be in the master plan will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at the parking lot nearest the park's entrance at 1600 Marsh Road.

In February, the City Council approved a $258,000 contract with Callander Associates Landscape Architecture to develop the master plan, and a $66,000 contract with CB&I Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. to do a technical evaluation of the plan.

During an earlier open house in April, city staff sought public feedback on a long list of possible changes to park use, some of which could be opposed by residents who prefer that the park continue to be restricted to "passive recreational" use, such as hiking, running, bicycling, dog walking, bird watching, kite flying and photography. (In 2006, voters opposed a measure to build sports fields on up to 17 acres of the park.)

Among the options city staff sought comment on were adding:

• Amenities such as docent-led tours, a nature summer camp, bike repair facilities and ranger services.

• Facilities to enable activities such as orienteering, geocaching, water sports, disk golf, group exercising, and flying model or motor-assisted gliders and drones.

Other ideas were to add an off-leash enclosed dog park, a nature play area, picnic tables, public art, EV charging stations, bike parking, and an outdoor classroom or amphitheater.

Feedback on the first open house has not yet been released.

Funding problems

One reason efforts are in earnest to complete a park master plan is that funding to operate and maintain the park is expected to run out in about three years.

There are two park funding sources, a landfill fund and a maintenance fund, according to Azalea Mitch, a senior civil engineer with the city.

The landfill fund – the park was created on the site of a former dump – receives revenue from Menlo Park's solid waste fees and is used for landfill-related expenses. It can't be used for park maintenance and operations.

The maintenance fund has been dwindling from the time the park was created. Funds had accumulated from the "tipping fees" that dumpers would pay to the city for each ton of waste dumped on the site, according to David Mooney, Menlo Park parks and trees supervisor.

In 2011, the City Council opted to cut ranger services from the park, saving about $100,000 a year. Currently, the maintenance fund has $335,000 in it, and the park costs $110,000 annually to maintain, Ms. Mitch said.

Current park costs are for mowing, maintenance and janitorial work, according to staff.

Among ways to generate funds that were discussed at the open house include entrance fees, concessions, donations, naming rights, private or corporate events, and a reservation-based picnic area.

Alongside the master planning process for the park, the city is conducting a technical evaluation in the park, Ms. Mitch said.

The city's current method for dealing with the methane that is emitted from the landfill beneath the park is to burn it, thereby breaking it down into carbon dioxide. The feasibility study will look at what it would take to convert it into natural gas, which could be used to fuel vehicles that run on compressed natural gas and generate revenue.

"We are hoping that this is feasible so that we can harvest the energy from the landfill gas," Ms. Mitch said.

Click here for project updates.

Related story: Levee changes, ecosystem restoration project imminent along Bay.


Sign up for Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


16 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 12, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Make it safe. Find funding via city, or county taxes, pledge drives, etc.

This park is for bringing the various forms of life together in nature. It's not for Facebook, the hotel(s) or any other business, for their interests or employees.

We need an unadultered setting, not another Stanford hill.

Keep it meaningful.

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 12, 2017 at 1:21 pm

This is the best park for residents of the eastern side of the city. Don't scuttle it because it is on the poor side of town. City spending should benefit all city residents, not just the downtown area.

4 people like this
Posted by Gobo
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

The methane from the landfill is already being used to generate electricity. It's not just "burned" as thus article states.

45 people like this
Posted by B
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm

MP would benefit from all the above items as described.

The thing this town is really, really, short of?

Playing fields for kids. Adult league and use get 2nd crack. Multi-use, all weather, lit playing fields.

160 acres - it would be great to accommodate all the needs listed. Playing fields could occupy a small portion and they would be used for recreation by far more residents than any of the other activities listed.

Charge the leagues, like MP already does.

18 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm

This is not a remotely pristine natural area. This is not a stand of unadulterated thousand year old redwoods. It's a landfill.

The highest and best use of an old landfill is actually meeting the needs of the residents. Some ball fields will not disturb the natural beauty of a former landfill. Letting people fly drones and RC gliders / planes will not mar the serenity of the bridge traffic or methane collection system. Charge the leagues and charge for flight permits or entry or similar to cover your costs.

Let's face it - it's literally a dump. There is a huge upside and essentially no downside in making it more useful for residents.

16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Mountain View's Shoreline Park is also a covered up dump, but the city invested the time and money into making it a great family destination. No reason why Menlo Park shouldn't do the same thing.

22 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Agreed, but let's make it a destination. Let's provide facilities for things people actually want to do.

2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 12, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

A golf course would enhance the natural beauty of the dumpsite, while providing revenue which could pay for maintenance of the park and any other recreational facilities. It could co-exist with the park and native flora and fauna. A clubhouse, with a first rate restaurant, billiard facility and bowling alley would fill the void created by the disappearance of these amenities, and provide substantial additional revenue.

21 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Jack Hickey

Golf courses in particular have turned out to be a HORRIBLE investment of late. So please pick another use for the dump.

BTW the community tried to have other uses a decade ago and people nearly had a coronary about it.....good luck. it will become another financial sinkhole for the city.


25 people like this
Posted by Lucy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm

More play fields.

Example: MP park and rec has zero field availability M-F evenings in September.

Soccer uses every one. And need more to get more children involved.

7 people like this
Posted by Pebbles
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 12, 2017 at 7:43 pm

That sounds amazing.

Other ideas:

> Add a lighthouse with viewing tower accompanied with viewing binoculars to see the rest of the Bay

> Line the Bayfront Expressway with all SF Bay Area City Flags and Organizations

>Put a large plastic wall in front of the Sewage plant - with a sort of SF Bay Water Sanitation Exhibit

>Make the Restrooms underground

>Menlo Park Gift Shop
-Features Books on Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Redwood City, San Carlos and the Bay Area
-A Stage for Park Events

>Outside Ampitheater - Sean Parker Park (or Parker Park... or Park Parker)

>A place to rent Paddle Boats (Paddle Boats with USB 3 outlets!)

>A long walking bridge which connects to Facebook's Campus

>A Concession Stand

>Rocking Chairs all along the Bay

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 12, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Funny Pebbles. Funny

10 people like this
Posted by societalills
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Oh boy! Just what we need! More places to play organized sports so that kids don't have to think or use their imaginations: Automatons over Entrepreneurs.
Sure, it's an old dump but it's one of the last large places to to fly a kite or walk or see a sunrise or sunset over the horizon instead of over buildings or wires and it's worth a lot if kids are going to respect what the earth has given us.

18 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm

There's plenty of underutilized open space in much nicer places (Hi MROSD) for enjoying nature. Some ballfields that are easy for Belle Haven residents to get to is a much better use of the space. It's not like Bedwell Bayfront is swarming with kids on the weekend - mine say it's boring and ugly, and they're right.

9 people like this
Posted by Bedwell Bayfront Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Have any of the complainers been to Bedwell Bayfront lately? It used to be small and smelly, but no longer. It's beautiful. The trails are numerous, varied and rarely busy. The scenary changes with the seasons and time of day. We are fortunate to have such a treasure in our city. The biggest downside to this project is that our gem will no longer be hidden.

12 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2017 at 6:43 pm

A couple of ballfields with dozens of kids won't prevent kite flying for the four kite flyers. Two? One?

"The trails are numerous, varied and rarely busy"


10 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2017 at 6:46 pm

"play organized sports so that kids don't have to think or use their imaginations: Automatons"

Wow. You hated sports so they are bad for everyone.

Got it.

Like this comment
Posted by henry fox
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 14, 2017 at 9:34 am

If a golf was considered, it would be privately built and run using recycled bay water. Several groups expressed interest a few years ago. And with the growing population, more may be interested now.

Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

A practical question: the park isn't exactly flat. Where would they put the ball fields? Would they grade the land? The park is quite hilly (as you would expect for a former landfill). Would the ball field be elevated? The idea of using it for sports fields is very popular, but it seems as if it would require an awful lot of earth moving to get it into shape for that. There is a flatter region in the middle, but it's a little bit of a hike in from the parking lot.

1 person likes this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

If we are going to make Bedwell Park more of a "destination" for MP (and other resident), we also need to solve the traffic problems inherent in Marsh and Willow roads. There is almost literally zero incentive to fight eastbound traffic on either road around commute time.

5 people like this
Posted by practical matters
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm

This site is still literally an old dump, with methane and uneven settling of the ground. It is very windy. Those are not good characteristics for safe playing fields.

The traffic on Marsh and Willow is horrific. What games could ever start on time there?

The site is surrounded by a wildlife refuge. Golf courses tend to have runoff that is toxic to wildlife. That is a terrible idea for the location.

Why does this need to be developed? It could be enhanced as a place of nature and hiking. What is wrong with that?

Like this comment
Posted by Village golfer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 14, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Jack - You have an underutilized golf course down the street from you. And you're the guy who wanted Edgewood to be 18 holes.

Make the small flat portion of this park into high-use multipurpose ballfields.

7 people like this
Posted by Historical Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

In 2006 Measure J failed by 70% of MP voters. This measure was put on the ballot by the MP Council to decide if soccer fields and a 9 hole golf course at the park were wanted. Not only did Measure J lose but two council members who wanted the soccer fields and a gold course lost their seats.

Why? It's a garbage dump that should not be disturbed. What's underneath the hills is years of toxic garbage, the kind that back in those days we didn't recycle. Think refrigerators and cars. Secondly, this pile of dirt along the bay is a place where people can go to get away from sports activities, take a walk and look at the bay.

The creation of the park was based on an agreement with all the cities who were members of the Disposal Agreement that the park would be a regional park offering passive recreation. Woodside, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, San Carlos, Belmont and other cities were part of the agreement. Sports fields were specifically not allowed.

The park needs a full time ranger as the City of Palo Alto retains. It needs picnic tables and an enclosed dog park. There needs to be more benches scattered around.

2 people like this
Posted by B
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

"Sports fields were specifically not allowed."

Okay. Show us the link, please.

"In 2006 Measure J failed by 70% of MP voters."

That's a lie, Ms. "Historical Facts". It was 61/39.

Also, your red herrings are showing... "Why? It's a garbage dump that should not be disturbed." No one is suggesting a disturbance or disruption to the cap.

Like this comment
Posted by Ginny Anderson
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Many people use this park early in the day, before their work takes them away from contact with the land. That contact is too often forgotten by people - adults AND kids - who spend far too much time at work or in organized activities, and are in danger of not being exposed to what it's like to simply BE with the elements of the natural world.
This is one of the few places locally available for people to re-member contact with nature.
Leaving it as natural as possible may help kids to rediscover what it means to BE in the natural world.
How do kids learn how to NOT be following directions on what to do with open moments??

4 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

@Ginny, you assume that people currently actually come to Bedwell Bayfront. It's amazingly underutilized, especially after the drone ban.

I suspect that a mix of nature and ballfields will get kids a lot more nature than the current "just nature, but nobody goes there".

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 10:10 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 19 comments | 5,886 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,856 views

Electric Buses: A case study
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,675 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,652 views

Stay a part of their day
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 607 views


Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info