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Menlo's parks could undergo massive revamp

Survey to collect ideas for parks across the city closes April 19

Local Joseph Derrough takes a moment to look up while reading his book at Sharon Park on a Wednesday in September 2012. Among the draft recommendations in the city's master plan for its parks facilities are to add restrooms, repair the pond's lining and create an off-leash dog area. (Michelle Le/The Almanac.)

Want to weigh in on what should be changed at city parks in the coming years? Menlo Park's draft park and recreation facilities master plan recommends changes such as a new Belle Haven community center, more dog parks, restrooms, field lighting and more.

Staff and consultants are currently circulating an online survey through April 19 to collect comments on a draft set of guidelines and recommendations for the master plan.

Access the survey here and the draft recommendations here.

One of the recommendations in the draft report is to renew the Onetta Harris Community Center and the campus that surrounds it. The Onetta Harris center and the Belle Haven Youth Center buildings were recently evaluated to be "at the end of their productive life" and need to be substantially renovated or rebuilt, according to the draft report.

The report recommends a community outreach process to decide whether to renovate those buildings and the Menlo Park Senior Center; rebuild only two of the buildings while leaving the 25-year-old senior center intact; or re-envision the entire campus, with the idea of creating a multi-generational community campus and park.

Other options being considered are to redevelop the pool, build more parking and possibly a parking structure, add a picnic area, and improve access to Kelly Park and Beechwood School.

Recommendations for the city's Burgess Park campus are to add a fitness center to the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, expand the Menlo Children's Center to create space for older kids to play, install lighting at the Burgess Park sports fields, add outdoor fitness equipment, re-line the duck pond, and possibly expand the snack shack located near the park's baseball field.

At Willow Oaks Park, the recommendations are to improve the off-leash dog area and build a bathroom as planned, improve the playground, reconfigure the tennis courts, and possibly add a group gathering space or community garden.

Recommendations for Nealon Park are to create a separate dog park that's not on the baseball field, with separate areas for large dogs and small ones; create a demonstration garden; upgrade the pathways; and add art or gathering spaces at the southern corner of the park.

At Sharon Park, the recommendations are to build a permanent bathroom, repair the pond lining, replace the cracked walking path and add lighting, install bike racks, and possibly create an off-leash dog area at the undeveloped western end of the park.

Other recommendations are to consider a fenced off-leash dog area with obstacles to train dogs at Stanford Hills Park, to consider permanent restrooms or a stage/amphitheater at Fremont Park, to add a play area for small children at Hamilton Park, to create a group picnic area or dog area at Jack Lyle Park, and to add educational features and community garden plots at Karl E. Clark Park.

The draft report also recommends that the city provide restrooms where feasible; upgrade furnishings like seating, drinking fountains, and trash and recycling receptacles; install educational storyboards to teach users about the historic, natural or cultural significance of the park; provide dog waste dispensers and drinking water wherever dogs are allowed; add more bike racks; and create more shaded seating areas.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, the City Council is scheduled to have a study session about the master plan recommendations at the Menlo Park Senior Center at 100 Terminal Ave. The council tentatively plans to review and possibly accept the plan at its June 18 meeting.

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