One idea that has been floated lately is to push the city to accept the questionable donation, hoping to couple it with affordable housing at the library site. There are many problems with this idea:
1. The donation was designated for a new library. The donor has refused to even consider reassigning the money to renovate the much-needed east-side library, and no one has heard promises that if the main library project goes through, he will assign the donation or top it for housing. This means that the city of Menlo Park will have to commit even more public money.
2. Do we really want to see houses take over every green space that we have? While having affordable housing is not a bad idea, removing trees (estimated between 15 to 35, depending on the site that is chosen) and taking up communal open park space to build a mega-library and top it with housing is a horrible idea. Burgess Park is heavily used by the community. People enjoy the outdoors, the trees and the little lung of nature that we have amid what is quickly becoming a developed and congested city. This is a gem that needs to be preserved, not a hot-spot to play monopoly with and place yet another development structure on. After all, the city's logo is a tree, not a structure!
3. One of the areas being proposed to site the mega-library/housing would involve encroaching on two currently operating child care programs: Menlo Children's Center and After School Care. Those services give an answer to pressing needs of working parents. So far, there hasn't been any information as to what would happen to the current and future users of those facilities once construction begins, should that site be chosen.
A library siting session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the main library to gather community input on the location of the expanded mega-library. If you think that there are other priorities in the city than having the main library rebuilt, then you should come and voice your opinion. So should all users of the park, current and future users of the child care facilities. Come to voice your opinions and hopefully we can preserve the character of Burgess Park.
Osnat Loewenthal lives on Willow Road in Menlo Park, and is a regular user of Burgess Park, the main library and the child care center.
This story contains 548 words.
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