Plans to add a new sports field at the 21-acre Flood Park in Menlo Park have pitted the park's immediate neighbors against some youth sports supporters over the how the park should be used in the years to come.
Neighbors of the park, which is located along Bay Road between Greenwood Drive and Del Norte Avenue, near U.S. 101, are concerned about the hubbub and noise that a new sports field would bring so close to their homes – in some cases, less than 100 feet away.
One resident of the adjacent Del Norte Avenue, Nettie Wijsman, submitted a petition bearing 54 signatures to the San Mateo County Parks & Recreation Department in advance of a presentation about the project to the Parks Commission; the presentation had been scheduled for June 7, but was delayed until Aug. 2.
San Mateo County owns Flood Park and has been pursuing a process to develop a master plan for the park's future development. A final environmental impact report was released May 15.
Among the proposed changes in the county's "preferred" project plan is the replacement of the existing baseball field and the addition of a new soccer and lacrosse field, a bicycle pump track, two bocce courts, a basketball court and a demonstration garden. Preliminary cost estimates indicate the changes will add up to about $14 million.
The petition's signers support a different plan: dedicating the existing baseball field, which is across the park from the Del Norte Avenue homes, for use for additional sports like soccer and lacrosse. They also supported prohibiting sports activities or paths at a minimum of 100 feet from residents' property lines.
Behind the petition is Wijsman, who, in public comments before the Menlo Park City Council on June 5, asked its members for help. She said that the changes would worsen traffic and that she did not believe there is enough parking to accommodate a new sports field. Alice Newton, also a Del Norte Avenue resident, asked that the city encourage the county to move the plans for a new ballfield away from the homes on that street and to disallow amplified sound.
On the other hand, the county received many comments from parents of baseball athletes, who say that there is a severe shortage of baseball fields in the city. Some parents said that Menlo Park does not have a single full-size baseball field within city limits, and the closest fields, at Menlo-Atherton High School and in Palo Alto, are heavily booked. Plus, the Menlo-Atherton High School baseball field is also used for other high school sports, specifically football, soccer and softball, said Rich Ferrick in an email to the county.
More baseball field space could mean the ability for Menlo-Atherton to offer a freshman baseball team, a number of supporters wrote.
"We need more baseball fields in Menlo Park to keep our kids active, playing and being a part of the community," wrote Keith Otis in a November 2017 comment letter.
Still other commenters expressed preference for minimal changes to the park.
Carolyn Ordonez wrote, "Flood Park is not the appropriate location for a huge sports center."
Joan Hilse wrote: "I think the current plans shortchange the original purposes of emphasizing the unique natural resources (trees, birds, walking paths) at the expense of organized sports."
Karen Schiller called the park a quiet escape, and wanted it to stay as-is: "This old park offers a serenity that is increasingly rare, and that is what makes it special."
People are invited to provide comment at the Aug. 2 presentation.
Go to the county's project webpage for more information.