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Council supports plan for city to buy former Park Theatre

Original post made on Oct 3, 2007

The Menlo Park City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to move ahead with a plan to buy the former Park Theatre on El Camino Real for $2.2 million in city funds and lease it to Menlo Park resident Andy Duncan for a private dance studio.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 12:22 AM

Comments (46)

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Posted by JOanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 3, 2007 at 6:00 am


No accountability whatsoever. Since when is the City in the banking business?

The shameful 3 members are myopic and unfit for office.


Question: Is there a recall process? I looked through the city code and couldn't find such a clause. I want to do something.

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Posted by outraged
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 6:02 am

This decision is absolutely outrageous. The council is taking taxpayer monies to subsidize a private enterprise. This building is hardly historic; the local historical society would not declare it historic.

The public benefit is nowhere to be seen. It is not going to be a theater, but a home for the "for profit" Menlo Dance Studio, which is owned by Mr. Duncan's mother.

Mayor Fergusson, now having declared she is running for supervisor is burdening us with this albatross. Maybe a recall is in order. I'm sure those supporters of the old slate of Jellins, DuBoc and Winkler are licking their chops, just waiting for the next election to toss her out. Maybe they should speed up the process and start a recall. With this decision, they will get the support of many of her former supporters. Maybe Robinson and Cline realizing that this is nothing more than Kelly's folly, will come to their senses and kill the contract.


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Posted by watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 3, 2007 at 6:33 am

The majority council totally ignored all the comments from the public, including the very poignant remarks by the city dance teachers who noted how archaic the city's facilities are. Instead of at least pretending to exercise some kind of impartial review, Kelly took it upon herself to shoot down all objections, one by one. Shameful. And, if it's not illegal, it should be.

Note that most supporters who spoke on behalf of the theater were not even residents. It's not their money! And to call the Park the centerpiece of Menlo Park is to stretch hyperbole to its breaking point. And to cover up this mess by claiming that it's an "investment" for the city? This is wrong on so many levels. Why is it so hard to get some rational people on the council?

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Posted by intersted party
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2007 at 8:07 am

will the city pay 2 million for a building for me so i can run a business downtown. sweet deal if you can get it. i'm gald john boyle and andy cohen had the guts to say no but i like the recall idea for the other guys.

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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 3, 2007 at 8:41 am

Ok, here comes my ideas for the council. I will use your documents and strategy as a template. The city will now have to review each and every one I submit as now this is a precident.

Looks like we have 28 million more available for private businesses.

I think I will have the town buy the old dal baffo building for my mom, and then not have to pay the lease for 25 years, perfect. That place "must" be historic. Looks like all I have to do is say it is.

I just don't get it. Who does the council think they represent?

Heyward Robinson and Richard Cline, I voted for you guys. Cline, I even spoke with you once, thought you were an outsider, and just might bring some common sense with you, but I was wrong.

Well, so since we, the city will be owners of the building, I want to see the books on the business that will run out of it. Make sure my investment is sound.

I just don't get it. UUT taxes, budget shortfalls, empty buildings, and now we are owners of a crappy old building. Thanks mayor and city council!

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Posted by just wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 3, 2007 at 8:47 am

[Portion removed by Almanac staff]

Why is our city staff doing studies for Andy Duncan's project, at tax payers expense? Why isn't he required to do them the way everyone else is expected to do?

What about parking? Where are all the people that will be using this new facility going to park?

Did anyone else notice how Mr. Duncan's story changed as to why this project was so important to him? I think he stood up, interrupted the council meeting, and changed his tune at least three times to try and sway votes.

Thank you John Boyle and Andy Cohen for sticking to your guns!

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Posted by canthisbe
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 3, 2007 at 9:37 am

Just finished watching on tape the meeting.

Rich Cline, I know you look at these threads. Please use your power in having voted for this funding, to reverse your vote at the next meeting.

Think about what you said. You insist that this come back as a theater. Otherwise you see no public benefit. Right on!!

It isn't going to come back as a theater. Think about it. Please undo this miss deed.

Kelly is jumping ship. Don't bring yourself down with this nonsense.

My advice to Heyward Robinson is the same. As I recall I think he stated he does not allow allow a blog like this to influence him and he probably doesn't even read it. That's why my comment was made to you only Mr. Cline.

Please do the right thing; change your vote. Stop the process.

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Posted by info
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 3, 2007 at 9:42 am

[Post removed by Almanac staff]

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Posted by Lulu
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:11 am

"Real estate is a good investment in Menlo Park." Or so the majority said, justifying their decision to buy the building.

Just because housing prices continue to rise (miraculously, considering what's going on everywhere else in the state/country), doesn't mean that this is a wise place to invest public funds. The Park is clearly a white elephant: the owner can't palm it off on anyone else, and last night we were repeatedly told that no developers were interested in the property. How generous of the city to step in to help Mr. Crittenden (a non-resident) recoup an investment that went sour many years ago.

The council also seemed swayed by the fact that this would be a public-private partnership because there will be private funds spent on this in addition to the public funds(vs using public money to fix up the rec center, for example). Where I come from, we call that throwing good money after bad.

You couldn't script a more astounding outcome, though I'm not sure whether this would play as comedy or tragedy.

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Posted by What is Kelly thinking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:54 am

Just when you think that it can't get any worse, it does.

I think this idea is nuts for all concerned (except for Andy Duncan) unless the theatre reopens as a theatre where the public can see a movies or another forms of artistic performance. I do have one suggestion:

If Rich Cline doesn't ask for a reconsideration and this sale and contract goes through, the Council should require that the seller Howard Crittenden replace the marquee that he had torn down at 7 AM on a Sunday morning in 2002. If there is anything historic about this building, it was the art deco marquee. Mr. Crittenden should pay for a new neon sign that is an exact replica of the one he destroyed. For over 5 years years we have had to live with this eyesore that he intentionally created, complete with Jellins, Winkler & Duboc campaign signs and other debris hanging and blowing in the wind.

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Posted by Halli Burton
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:14 am

Dear Councilman Cline,

With Kelly, we might expect it. But you Mr. Cline, I voted for you primarily because you told me you would be an independent voice, looking out for the interests of our city. I don't see it and you just lost me. This old building is not "historic" and the public benefit is extremely limited. Now, we are going to own it?

What do we get to do? Look at the neon sign as we drive by?

Maybe Mayor Kelly, Heyward and you can give historic tours of the place - a no bid publicly financed for profit private business. Reminds me of another company just like that.

Let's at least hope somebody got something out of this because it is a really bad deal for Menlo Park and our relationship is now a bit strained.


Halli Burton

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Posted by CouncilWatcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:34 am

This is an astonishing outcome.

Kudos to Boyle and Cohen for standing pat.

This is Kelly's use of her utility tax. Expect that Mayor Bumpkin will lobby to be reaffirmed as mayor in December so that she can run for Supervisor with the title 'Mayor'. She's been floating this idea for the past 4 weeks, much to the chagrin of her supporters.

Mr. Cline campaigned on improving the process of council decisions. What happened?

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:36 am

This decision is an outrage. It must not be forgotten or ignored.

What process is best to address this inappropriate use of public funds? I suggested a recall. What is the next step?

The three who voted FOR this bailing out friends have crossed the line. It is up to us to make sure that they cannot get away with this.

Just because no one else had an idea to develop the non-historic theater is NOT a reason to GIVE our money away. City is NOT a bank.

So I ask again, what can be done? I look forward to hearing your ideas.

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Posted by wasting_our_tax_$
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:42 am

It's worth remarking that a number of years ago, the City took over a failing child care center and now it is entirely a city operation with city employees and city pension money going to those employees. Supporters of the MCC claim that it pays for itself, but they leave out the admin cost, overhead, and pension costs all to serve maybe sixty or so residents of the city. BTW, Kelly's kids are in the MCC.

Here we have Kelly's kids in the dance studio, she fails to mention that, and she kicks in $2mil plus of our tax$$$ for this white elephant.

Wow! is there any reason we're all cynical about politicos?

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Posted by Partyon
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:48 am

The beneficiaries of our cities largesse, Andy Duncan and Howard Crittendon, should throw a really big party.

Andy gets his mom's dance business subsidized by the city, and Howard got millions from the city for a grossly overvalued old building that no one wanted.

Wanna come?

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Posted by afraid
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 3, 2007 at 11:52 am

Come on. What is wrong with making a seismically unsafe and fire-prone building into a dance studio for kids? I can't wait to reenroll mine.

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Posted by Rich Cline
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 12:13 pm

First, thanks everyone for watching and policing the policy makers in our city.

To start, we need to fix accuracy issues within the article itself. We have directed the city to move ahead with putting together a deal with Andy Duncan's team. We did not authorize the city to accept the deal straight out. This all comes back to us again.

I see a lot of commentary in this string about my stance on this one vote as a self-proclaimed "outsider" when I ran for office. I have had no discussions with any council members about this topic in two months and only held two meets with the author of the proposal. I heard the opposition from many people I respect. The fact that I disagree with people whom I do respect highly on this idea (that the theater is a valuable asset) is actually quite consistent with my campaign pledge. I did not have my mind made up last night until I heard the details. And since there are more details to be found through a discussion between staff and Mr. Duncan, I felt it was best to direct them to move forward and get a deal structured.

I will tell you that the validity of the theater as a worthy facility to rescue is foundation for debate. You don't agree, I respect that. Directing the city to work through a deal is the right thing to do. I simply do not feel comfortable closing this issue and letting the theater go given that we have a deal worth evaluating further.

You all have my number and I invite you to call and meet with me if you want. And I understand that my response here opens up all sorts of conjecture and potential insults from unnamed sources. I invite conjecture, but the insults and derision will be ignored.

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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm

I am watching the video of last night...

Best quotes of the night!

(Menlo Park) "a company buying back their own stock." - Robinson

"an investment in our community." - Robinson

All this talk about keeping the "theater alive" - Cline, its not going to be a theater! Its not historical. There is no community benefit.

"to close the curtain" - Cline. There will be no curtain, its not going to be a theater!

So where is the argument?

Return on investment? Lets see the books on the business.

And to watch our mayor - the looks on her face as she is starting to pitch her vision. Wow, what is really going on inside that head?

"a bird in the hand, and very attractive opportunity, an investment (everything is an investment...)" Ms. Mayor.

She almost cannot get words out of her mouth..

Its not going to be a theater. EVER.

Lets just think about this the right way. If there was a return on this investment, there would be money for the project. Its simple economics, all or most NPV positive projects usually get investment.

I just cannot believe the gall of Mr. Duncan to pressure public officials to give him money. Then to ask to decide right now.

Cline's comments: why is this guy so emotional about it?

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Posted by simple math
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2007 at 1:39 pm

$800,000 for 25 years = $2,666.66 per month.... where can I rent a building of that size on el camino in Menlo for that monthly payment. Then after 25 years $70,000 a year which = $5,833.33 per month. The after 25 years monthly rent is below market today! imagine how far below market it will be in 25 years..... I am bewildered as to why the city of menlo is giving away tax payers money to subsidize a private buisness. Please enlighten me as to the public benefit, I'll be dead before any benefit is seen. This makes no sense. I was blown away to see the decision made by council. Residents should be outraged!!

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Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 2:25 pm

Mr. Duncan has chutzpah, I'll give him that. Clearly, there's no harm in asking the council for handouts.

The waste of staff time on the Park theater project has been inexcusable. Going ahead with it is incomprehensible.

I expect that next week, Joe Citizen will come up with a plan to take over the struggling police department in exchange for some multi-million dollar council support. Personally, I'd like to privatize the duck pond.

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Posted by real politik
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Fergusson and Robinson are looking to take credit for some kind of El Camino upgrade, because both their spouses work @ Stanford, neither can participate in any discussion about the empty car dealerships (land owned by Stanford). The old Shepard cadillac land will get something without their hands on approval. So it's obvious this was about a "photo op" politically expedient decision, not based on sound business/fiscally prudent judgment. It's the only eyesore left on ECR that they can brag about redeveloping for improving MP's image and their political careers. As long as it's not out of their own pocket! Business as usual in Menlo Land.

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Mr. Cline, you feel that, "the theater is a valuable asset" and the theater is, "a worthy facility to rescue". That is indeed subject to debate.

Obviously, it is not a historical building in the traditional sense -the historical society does not consider it to be and it is not listed on the historic register. The building is no longer used as a theater and most likely never will be again. It doesn't look historical. If you walk around it, you will see that it is an old tilt up industrial style building with only the false facade of an art deco theater and that facade can be easily replicated elsewhere. Even if the lobby is restored, it will not be seen by the public. So I ask you, what makes it such a "valuable asset" for our community and why is it such "a worthy facility to rescue", that precludes something new and financially viable? Indeed, something that does not tie up a significant amount of city funds and simultaneously remove commercial property from the tax rolls.

Council has directed staff to put together a deal with Andy Duncan's team based on the parameters in the article. The fundamental terms are there, only the details are not. Clearly it is an undermarket sweetheart deal for Mr. Duncan providing an extensive subsidy by the city to a for profit venture of questionable overall community benefit. I do understand the value of having a quality private dance program, but the cost of this part of the deal is excessive. If Mr. Duncan had the funds available to make this work, fine, but he apparently does not. If the city wanted to subsidize the facade as an historical art project, great, but this is an unjustified, inappropriate and excessive use of city funds.

You did't mention the other part of the deal - the 2.2 million to be paid to Mr. Crittendon for the building. It has been vacant for years and clearly if he could have sold it for that much long ago, he would have. Based on current zoning, it is worth far less per foot than the former Cadillac property across the street and the price appears to be significantly over market value. Mr. Crittendon also benefits greatly not only with the city expediting a deal, but more significantly there is apparently no real estate commission - at 6% of the overall price, something in the neighborhood of 132,000.00 that he would typically have to pay.

This looks like a restructuring of the previous deal where Mr. Duncan wanted to borrow 500,000.00 from the city. That didn't fly as it was a bad deal, and this is worse. The whole block of El Camino could be stuck with the theater if we choose to redevelop in the future.

This is an opportunity we should pass on. It does not save the theater. That part of the building's life is over. There are much more reasonable and better uses for our funds, including acquiring real property in other more appropriate areas that would have broader community benefits.

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Posted by SF
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Sweet deal for Mr. Duncan - Why can't other interested parties have an opportunity to bring proposals to the City for possible purchase/venture for the Park Theater now that the City is providing financial backing. I'm sure that if you opened up the public process the City might find better alternatives and uses for the building. Is Mr. Duncan even qualified to take on a development project of this nature? Where is the fairness in this process.

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Posted by real politik
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 3, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Voters can't lay a glove on Robinson and Cline for 3 years, Fergusson is up for re election next November, if she dares run. So the 2 guys have nothing to lose. But Cline must realize when you float a letter of intent with a vote you're hard pressed to kill the deal on some details later on. Puts the city at legal risk of non-performance if Crittenden and Duncan sue for perfomance based on last nite's vote. Definitely collect their legal, engineering costs and possibly lost profits if the city welches on the deal.
Sad that we have council people with limited real world business/legal experience to subject the taxpayers to such liability.

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Posted by putrid
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 3, 2007 at 7:48 pm

The bldg. most likely sits on a toxic waste dump, given the no. of auto repair shops next to it and the car dealers, gas stations, etc. operating since the 30's across ECR.
No surprise that the owner and developer want the city to assume the cleanup and liability. Hope there's enough left in the reserve fund to pay for all the lawsuits/settlements.
Can Mr. Cline explain how you take undisturbed core samples when the structure covers the land the city wants to buy?
Gasoline, oil, diesel, trichlor., PCB's, make for a pretty lethal mix.
Knowing what we know today, every child entering that bldg. would be sujected to contaminants and they would have a strong case for recovery against we the taxpayers for indulging this travesty.

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Posted by Roxie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 3, 2007 at 8:25 pm

Councilman Cline was uncomfortable "letting the theater go...", where did he think the theater was going? Was the building ready to sprout legs and walk away?

The proposal the Mayor Fergussen and councilmen Robinson and Cline approved, to buy the Park Theater for 2.2 million was set before the public less than a week ago when the agenda for last night's city council meeting was published as far as I can tell. Mr. Duncan's offer they couldn't refuse was sent to the City Manager on September 20.

Funny how fast these three public officials were able to move on this. I only hope they can move as fast and appropriate funds to raise the line police pay to Redwood City's levels so that Menlo Park has a chance of hiring the police offices we need and can keep the officers we have.

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Posted by fed up!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 4, 2007 at 8:35 am

Duncan couldn't get traditional funding or backers for this project because it was a bad deal. As a last ditch effort, he's now trying the "historical" route. He jumped up to that microphone, interrupting the discussion again and again, completely out of order, trying to intimidate the council, insinuating that if he didn't get a go on his project that night, he'd...he'd...he'd do what? What would he have done?? Gone away?

Real Politik - You made some great points! I wonder why the City Attorney or City Manager didn't advise the council, even during the meeting, not to make any statements that would set the city up for issues like that?

Putrid- That's scary! Bet the city council never thought about they are now!...and Kelly claims to be a "green" mayor? Her green must be the taxpayers money she's playing with.

And finally...remember what happened when a council put in "calming devices" on Santa Cruz Avenue?? The scars are still there, but that council isn't!

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:09 am

Robinson and Cline, like Fergie are not above accountability. Recall is in the works. 3 years WILL NOT be a cushion if the council members have a relationship with the dance studio and went ahead and voted yes anyway.

This is an unfair and inappropriate use of public funds. This will not be swept away.

One month to act.

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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:52 am

Richard Hine is a registered user.

If you have news regarding this issue, e-mail me at or call me at 854-2626, ext. 213. Rory Brown is on vacation through Monday. Thanks.

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Posted by putrid
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:12 am

forgot to mention the old chinese laundry across ECR, strong suspect for dry cleaning fluid disposal over the years that migrates underground. How about a little lead, etc.
from the plumbing outfit and lockworks, paint dumping in the back of those deep lots. Any old timers remember the businesses along that strip? Might have some other yellow flags to worry about.
Well there goes the city's bond rating down the tubes if this deal goes through. Who would want to peddle the city's bonds as highest rated when they take on a huge liability obligation for toxic cleanup, tortious personal liability exposure as the new owner.

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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:27 am

So I took a walk by the "building" in question yesterday:

1. It is not the "gateway building" to Menlo Park. We have other wondrous (read: not great) buildings and beautiful business signs attached to them. (In my opinion, all old and outdated.)
2. The theater has straight flat walls, no "art deco" or any features that I can see that have any architectural features to them.
3. The marquis is simply 2 flat panels - again no features to them or interest.

Please go and take a close look at this place - no one would anyone invest in this building, so why does the city have to? Also please remember that the only "benefit" we would get is a fresh coat of paint and a large sign that reads "Dance studio" or more likely: look at the building that Menlo Park bought for the mayor's children so they would have a dance studio. Do you guys even think about what other towns will think of your decision?

Someone please make this go away?

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Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:34 am

What I want to know is, who are the 140 people who signed Duncan's petition in favor of this boondoggle? Everyone with a child enrolled in the dance studio? Friends and associates of Sandy Crittendon?

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Posted by fiscally prudent
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:41 am

Just filing a taxpayer lawsuit to stop this malfeasance would kill it. The grand jury would jump all over it as well.
Public treasuries are not to be abused.

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Posted by fed up!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 4, 2007 at 10:44 am

Mr. Editor,

Can't you get answers to some of these questios for us? Read up, make a list...could be a Pulitzer in your future! LOL

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Fiscally Prudent,

Hi there! Heck, if that's all it takes, we can do it pro se! Or if we have an attorney here, we can kill this quickly before it gets out of hand and before more public money is flushed down the toilet.

Like editor said, there are ties between the yes votes and the characters involved (building owner and dance owner). Who has proof besides the fact that their kids are enrolled? Enrollment list is easy to get... there should be something else out there.

Let's keep going folks!

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Posted by Astonished
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 4, 2007 at 4:15 pm

This was a flagrant abuse of the public trust, and those involved should be removed from office by the responsible voters of Menlo Park.

Our community has many pressing public needs which could be met with 2.2 million dollars. Using the public treasury to line the pockets of the private owner of the Park Theater and a dance studio operator is an astonishing and serious violation of the authority vested in Council members Fergusson, Robinson, and Cline.

Let's replace them with leaders who know how to protect the community's interest.

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Posted by Mike Gullard
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 4, 2007 at 4:20 pm

I didn't bother to attend the Council meeting to speak out against this but I didn't believe the Council would seriously consider taking any action. Shame on me for making that assumption.
This is a totally inappropriate use of public funds. We are buying a building to support a private business which will operate in a building of dubious historical value.
There will be no public activities in theatre renovated to be a dance studio.
If the City wants to buy "historical" buildings, they should have bought the building housing MacDonalds before it was renovated. It had about the same historical and asthetic value as the Park Theatre.
If the City wants to support "theatre", donate $500,000 to the Menlo-Atherton High School Performing Arts Center and make it a world class community theatre that the residents can enjoy.

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Posted by rainmaker
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Fast forward, as seen on TV...Members of the Jury, my clients child had dreams of being a dancer, and, like her parents, sincerely believed that she would be safe at the city owned Academy of Dance, Park Theatre Annex, formerly operated by the now bankrupt proprietor Duncan. But, because the city did not make the effort to be absolutely sure that this was an environmentally clean site, this poor child has suffered a debilitating illness contracted while attending dance classes at that "unsafe" facility. There is no other conclusion than other to determine the city as grossly negligent, and, with ample reserves of over $20 million, is well able to compensate my clients for their pain and suffering. We appeal to your sound judgment of what is fair compensation from this city of millionaires. It's high time for Menlo Park's elected politicians to atone for their past misdeeds.

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Posted by $$pissed$$
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2007 at 9:38 am

Hmm, this awful decision makes me miss the previous council of oh not so long ago. At least their Bayfront Park playfields proposal would have served the public, was not a giveaway, would have be paid for by a tax on developers, and most of all, was put up to a vote so that we could all decide.

Wasn't this the council that promised that when elected, they would have an open government that listens to the voters?

John Boyle is smarter and more sensible than all the other council members put together. Andy Cohen is clearly a man of integrity and healthy skepticism, a wonderful thing in a public servant. On this vote alone, Cohen has already earned my vote in '08.

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Posted by Horrified Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 5, 2007 at 10:44 am

Menlo Park is becoming like a movie:

Cline & Kelly; = Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does.

Robinson seems to be a misguided fanatic.

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Posted by JoAnne
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2007 at 11:17 am

The vote on Tuesday night reflected the most emotional, least rational decision I have ever seen coming from the council dais. Most telling, I think, is the fact that money for renovating the city's gym, used by thousands of gymnasts, basketball players, volleyball players, and other residents each year, is not imminently forthcoming; the rec center that houses the very popular public dance programs and other classes may never be remodeled. But for a private enterprise, the city has money? Something is seriously awry here.

I am with you, Mike, I did not attend the meeting because the public outcry against this deal had been deafening from the beginning. Never did I foresee such an absurd travesty. This is not the Fox Theater. This is not the Stanford Theater. This is an ugly little building that few patronized when it was operational. If it were worth the amount of money that the city proposes to pay for it, Crittenden would have palmed it off long ago.

Kudos to Andy and John for trying in vain to infuse some reason into the proceedings.

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Posted by keep it real!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Really JoAnne? The most emotional? The least rational? Talk about a revisionist! That last council gave away a $7M pool!!! Get some perspective people. Yes, this deal is ridiculous. No I am not happy with the Kelly Majority. But stay in the reality -- that last council stunk it up on every aspect. I don't like seeing staff time committed to negotiating a deal that has no legs aside from our tax dollars as the funding mechanism. If this deal goes through, there should be hell to pay. But you guys are way down the road already. This deal has NOT been approved and that last council was horrible. Don't rewrite history.

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Posted by JoAnne
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I know, KIR, I was there for those fiascoes too. I'm not the person who's missing the former council-- that pool decision reflected a serious lack of financial acumen or negotiating ability on the part of the prior council members. I do think Tuesday's vote was more emotional, and even less rational but it's not worth debating--it may in fact be the second or third most irrational decision ever made, but that doesn't make it any less repugnant.

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Posted by $$piss$$
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2007 at 10:15 pm

"keep it real", you are mistaken. Giving away the Burgess pool to a profit making entity is only a little more profitable than giving away a public library or a public park to make money. pool operations don't make much money 'cause the maintenance and labor cost is so high. ask anybody that is a member of a pool club. that's why public pools end up costing so much tax $$ to subsidize. i pay $3 for my kids to swim. the main reason the prior council wanted to outsource the pool is to get the subsidy off the city's books and about thirty employees and their future pensions. And that's why the municipal union declared war on them. Check out the Almanac archive.

all i know is that wife likes the private operator way better, the instructors and employees are nicer too. I've heard it from a lot of people that the Sheeper folks just do a better job than the city did.
So here is the equation. Burgess Pool = still open to public + public happy + five year lease + no cost. Park Theater = closed to public + public pays $1.4mil + 55 year lease.

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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Oct 5, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

There some news on the Park Theatre: Web Link

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Posted by $watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 8, 2007 at 8:42 am

The Burgess Pool fiasco is worthy of a different thread. The city negotiated a terrible deal. Yes, I like the pool (Sheeper didn't design or build it), and it seems to be run well.
However, it is NOT at "no cost" because the city doesn't charge any rent, only gets reimbursed for some of the operating costs.

There was time to get competitive bids, but the city council wouldn't even try. That alone, is bad practice. But the worst part is that residents continue to pay for the $7 million facility that the operator gets to use for free. The city knows Sheeper charges more than other cities even though that violates the contract, but the city isn't enforcing the contract.
There is an end to the contract when competitive bids can be sought and better terms can be imposed. This should get lots of press.

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

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