Flood Park plan pits sports field supporters against neighbors

Children play a casual game of soccer at the picnic area at Flood Park. (Photo courtesy Robert Most.)

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.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


10 people like this
Posted by Nature Lover
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 13, 2018 at 11:12 am

I'm sure many Menlo Park residents would be perfectly happy if Flood Park were nothing but sports fields and dog parks. I'm hoping that doesn't happen. I understand the desire for sports fields, but I have always appreciated the emphasis on walkways and trees over clearing space for fields and lawns. I have no problem with revamping and expanding the existing baseball field, however.

14 people like this
Posted by mo' fields for kids
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 13, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Good heavens... we NEED more sports fields. Been that way in MP for decades, back when my kids were, well, kids.

29 people like this
Posted by Coach
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2018 at 12:42 pm

There are parks and schools all over the city where kids play sports. The neighbors have to deal with a little extra traffic and noise, but please keep in mind that these are OUR kids and our city, despite the "park" in its name, has limited green space.

I've attended Flood meetings and I understand the neighbors' desire to keep Flood low use. I've heard their complaints about whistles blowing non-stop (if they ever watched a kids soccer or lacrosse game they would realize this isn't the case). I realize they want Flood to serve the neighbors only, so as to avoid traffic issues.

Flood is, however, public, and we all support it with our taxes. I wish they could try to accept that, and appreciate their proximity to this space without expecting exclusivity.

8 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 13, 2018 at 3:02 pm

I wonder if San Mateo County could annex the flood school property adjacent to flood Park? If this were possible there could definitely be a soccer field or an additional playing field. That property has been vacant for years and recently bulldozed to the ground. It would be a travesty to see one of the heritage Oaks,or any mature tree sacrificed for a playing field in the existing park. People are getting whiplash from all the changes going on in our city. We need to take time to think this through before any trees are removed because in our lifetime they could never be reproduced!

19 people like this
Posted by DD Goose
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 13, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Save a tree vs a field that thousands of kids will play on every year?

Easy call - I'm with the benefits that our kids and society get Everytime.

Neighbors that bought next to a park shouldn't moan about park activities.

5 people like this
Posted by V ROM
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 13, 2018 at 10:10 pm

Neighbors got a reduced price for buying a house right next to a party, just like those that buy next to a school. Now they want to complain ? Silly.

Build several good multi purpose fields.

Support the kids in our community.

... from a neighbor across Bay

5 people like this
Posted by Realism
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2018 at 7:59 am

Flood Park is lovely, but surely a compromise can be reached?

The park has been underutilized for years, and is a community treasure, than needs to evolve with the community and the needs of all the residents.

Best of luck in avoiding another contentious battle. I vote for more sports fields (not just baseball) but that aren't too close to residential homes. The park can have both.

2 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

Apparently, some Menlo Park residents mistakenly believe they live in Atherton.

8 people like this
Posted by mo' fields for kids
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:42 am


There are 28 Lindenwood homes directly on Bay Road, 5 on the south end (not across from the park) that 'face' out onto Bay, the rest 'face' in (including 10 directly across the street from the park.)

iirc, they're the ones that got live music banned a number of years ago (ie.. mariachi bands and boom boxes.)

It's a county park (San Mateo County Parks & Recreation Department.)

What's your point?

1 person likes this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:57 am

What about all the artificial turf that has been stored for about 6 years near the baseball field there. What happened? A big loss of $$$$$$$$$$, for not using that turf to repair and up grade that baseball field???????

You bought it, now use it!!!!!

9 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 14, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Flood Park has a large collection of heritage oaks and California laurels that should be maintained. However, the softball field, baseball field, bocce ball courts and tennis courts are all in disrepair and ugly. The park needs updating for sure. This park once had a community pool, so it has gone through various iterations over the years. The existing fields/courts could be developed, while still keeping the trees and the more tranquil parts of the park. Both things can be done - its not an "either-or" here!

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Mo' fields - I made my point and if you don't get it, oh well. Yes, I know the location of Lindenwood as well as the location of the park. I know who owns the park, too. Gosh, thanks for your concern!

4 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 14, 2018 at 6:16 pm

The hisstory of this city and its park facilities is an old one and the issues remain the same money, traffic, noise and hours of use for groups.
Burgess Park- when Park was redeveloped rather then make separate facilities that allowed both soccer and baseball to be played at the same time they chose to put the soccer field and baseball field in the same spot. Both groups lose time and scheduling issues are a yearly problem.
Nealon ParkSoftball field- improvements for adult softball use and some youth leagues of baseball and soccer but council chose to allow dog users to use the same field that people play softball and soccer on. Not a sound decision and still causing issues years later.
Bedwell Park - couple of years ago shot down the use of a portion of the parks many acres for sports fields that would allow the community more then enough space to walk their dogs, ride bikes and play soccer. Another lost opportunity to use space to benefit everyone.
Now Flood Park with an opportunity to provide both sports and nature lovers space to enjoy the land.
Don’t expect the city to provide a sensible solution but expect another misguided decision based on whoever cry’s the most and lack of backbone to make a decision that benefits everyone. The parks are a mess throughout the city and that won’t change until council learns to look at the big picture and remember what parks are for. The city had an opportunity to buy Flood Park from the county years ago for $1 and did not do it......yes another poor decision concerning our parks and a lost opportunity

5 people like this
Posted by Alice Newton
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 14, 2018 at 6:23 pm

It is important to know that Kate Bradshaw’s article of 6/13/18 is about comment letters sent to the San Mateo County Parks Department last November regarding the Draft EIR about Flood Park. On May 16, six months later, the County released the Final EIR which contains some changes in response to those letters and answers to the comments in each letter. There were 79 letters including from Caltrans and the City of Menlo Park plus representatives of sports groups, professional landscape designers and gardeners, and residents of Menlo Park and surrounding communities.The County planned to present the Final EIR to the County Parks Commissioners on June 7th, but changed the date to August 2nd at the request of the City of Menlo Park toallow time for Menlo Park officials and others to study the Final EIR. You can view the DEIR, comment letters and designers’ responses, Final EIR, letters to the SM Co. Parks and Rec Commissioners, etc. at

One of the major issues to address is that Flood Park is on Bay Road which is only accessed by Willow, Ringwood, and Marsh roads all of which have severetraffic congestion and sometimes gridlock during M-F afternoon commute hours heading to Hwy. 101 and the Dumbarton Bridge. These are the hours that sports players would be coming to the baseball and soccer/lacrosse fields especially using Ringwood and Marsh Roads which will inevitably exacerbate congestion despite some people riding bicycles.

Another major issue is the proposed location of a new soccer/lacrosse field. I live adjacent to the east side of the park and let me make it clear that most residents living on the streets near the east side of the park enjoy sports and raised kids here who played baseball and soccer. Most have consistently looked forward to having the historic baseball field refurbished. The full-size soccer/lacrosse field was announced after the community input period for Flood Park (May – Sept., 2015) at a suddenly called public meeting in December. Residents of streets near the east side of the park feel that the proposed location of this field is too close to their small backyards and homes and that the proposed noise mitigations will not prevent problematic impulse noise. The “approximately” 100 ft. buffer is not clearly defined, perhaps not actually possible, and other such fields in Menlo Park are farther from backyards or have a high sound wall. Also, it is important to realize that the field in Flood Park is planned to be used every day year-round (M-F 4-7 pm and 9-5 every Saturday and Sunday). It will be artificial turf while Menlo Park grass fields cannot be used for several months/year to regenerate. Park neighbors who advocated for a combination of the multiuse field alternatives offered in the DEIR instead of separate baseball and soccer/lacrosse fields did so to push the process of finding a plan for the sports fields that addressed both the noise and traffic concerns. Measurements by neighbors show other possible locations in the park for a soccer/lacrosse field that would be farther from all park borders, nearer to the entrance to the park and parking lot, and require removing only a few trees instead of 30. We want the park planners to study these locations and we feel that a better park layout that will please sports groups, picnickers, and neighbors can be achieved while also preserving the natural and historic environment of the park.

Additionally, Menlo Park is currently soliciting public input regarding a new 20 year master plan for the city parks. This is an opportunity to address the apparent need for more soccer/lacrosse fields accessible to users. Perhaps change one to artificial turf for year-round use? Rooftop fields on parking garages are increasingly common. Perhaps the parking lot in Burgess Park could be replaced with underground parking and a ground-level field. Funds are still available from Measure T. Go to for information and a survey. The public is invited to the Menlo Park City Council’s study session , 6-7 pm, July 17th.

I am quoted in Kate Bradshaw’s article as being opposed to the use of amplified sound in the park. I was referring to use of amplified sound at sports fields or courts. To be clear, the County has signs stating that no amplified sound is allowed in Flood Park, but in fact. it is frequently used for parties and is usually not a problem for neighbors if it is in the interior of the park with speakers not aimed toward houses and is not loud. The Final EIR says the County allows amplified sound for users that have a Special Use Permit, but another place in the EIR states that they do not have quantitative regulations for sound in their parks. In the redesigned park, amplified sound is apt to be more frequent. It is my opinion that since Flood Park is entirely within the city limits of Menlo Park, that the sound regulations should be those of Menlo Park regarding amplified sound and machinery used. Rangers should carry decibel monitors.

1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 14, 2018 at 7:15 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


The city doesn't own the park, the county does.

Like this comment
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 14, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Menlo voter, yes I’m aware of that. See last sentence

4 people like this
Posted by V ROM
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 14, 2018 at 8:42 pm

Back to nature? Next to 101?

More fields.

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

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Couples: Reading List
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,502 views

No one wants a train viaduct overshadowing the backyard
By Dana Hendrickson | 3 comments | 628 views

It’s not the memory I had planned, but a memory was made
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 130 views