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Guest opinion: Bleachers wrong for Atherton park

Original post made on Jan 30, 2014

In the fall of 2012, Atherton voted to "Save Our Park" by aborting well-thought-out plans for a library, which might have benefited all Atherton citizens.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 30, 2014, 7:49 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jan 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Where can I find drawings of the concrete bleachers?

Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:18 am

Walter Sleeth was last heard advocating for a library in the park. This was defeated by the largest margin of voters in an election that I've ever seen.

Residents didn't want a new $10M library we don't need. Kathy McKeithen had planned to destroy the Atherton police department by taking away anchor funds for a new town center. The voters wisely rejected this.

And now Walter Sleeth is going to continue to tell us what to do with the park. How interesting. No one is listening to you, Walter. It's okay for kids to play little league, even if you and Kathy McKeithen don't like it.

Posted by lover o the park
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 31, 2014 at 12:58 pm

i am at holbrook palmer park every day when i walk my dog. i see children playing baseball. i see parents and children on the field. when there is no game. when there are games i see families on the grass with chairs and blankets and picnic baskets.... all of that delights me. it reminds me of how wonderful it can be to live in a small town with a very nice park. what people need to remember is that it is a park...not a ballpark. little league has been successful for a lot of years on the field and the idea of permanent stands being erected is sinful. all of a sudden the park is the new battlefield in atherton. first the ridiculous idea of moving the library and now this. please just leave the park iX06e alone for the enjoyment of all visitors at the park. it is a park - not a ballpark.

Posted by concerned neighbor
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

There is no question that the interpretation of case law here was narrow. The actual wording of the measure made no mention of the significant bleacher structure, and it is reasonable to believe that voters accept the actual wording of a measure as representing its meaning. There was a logical assumption that the field would be improved as specified in the measure.

Posted by Finally
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Finally! People are realizing we all got played! The Little League put alot of money and man hours into selling this deal to all parties involved without mentioning the true facts and how awful looking it will be to all other park users. The number of Atherton children even playing in this league is less than 10%.

This horrific over build out of our lovely open space park is ridiculous. These guys have made a mockery of our town decision making process. B

Beautifying the park is one thing - but I can tell you this is only the beginning with these guys - once they get started it will be larger than planned. There is no plan for oversight on this project. They will feel entitled to do whatever, whenever with no respect to residents and other groups plans. They do not want dogs on their field, or children playing Frisbee or anything else.

The town basically sold a substantial size plot of land to the Little League organization who will now control it. We did not know what we were voting for!!!

Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Where can I find documentation on the bleachers little league is projected to build?

Posted by Troubled
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I'm dismayed by the scope of the Little League construction. It seems to me to be out of proportion to the general use of the park. The rift in Atherton continues with "Here we go again" doing name calling rather than addressing the issues raised.

Posted by LeRon Bijoux
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm

To those who believe they were played: you are right. Given the history of the Liitle League advocates re the park, this outcome was totally predictable. I don't like it. Others don't like it. But it's time to just be quiet and deal with it. Our elected officials have voted and what's done is done. All we can do if we don't like it is to vote for someone else next time.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Against Little League playing in your park? Sounds un-American. Or, is it because "outside children" will be playing baseball in the park?

Posted by Irony abounds
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Isn't it fascinating that the council members opposing the library in the park are voting for the stadium in the park, and the library in the park proponents are against the stadium.

The most charitable explanation I can give for the otherwise inexplicable decision by Elizabeth Lewis, Cary Wiest, and Rick DeGolia is a misguided notion that if a staff member such as the city attorney (or city manager, or police chief) makes a recommendation, it's "meddling" or "micro-managing" to question it.

In this case, the city attorney came up with (in my view, a rather ridiculous) argument that Atherton must adopt the "pro argument" for the stadium rather than the ballot measure itself.

Too bad Kathy McKeithen isn't around anymore to "meddle", as she would have gotten to the bottom of this and prevented this travesty.

Posted by Sports for all
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 31, 2014 at 10:06 pm

The issue is not having kids play baseball in the park, it is the completely ridiculous over build! The kids are playing baseball now and it's fine. No need for permanent seating or any other structures in our 1 patch of open space in Atherton.

The changes that are planned are permanent and will completely change the bucolic nature of our park. It's not a sports field, sports complex - it's a park!

Posted by Lesson Learned
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 1, 2014 at 9:41 am

Back in 2012 the Opposition to Measure M voter piece stated: "In the Town Council majority’s haste to bring this project forward for a vote, there is now no place for negotiation as to what should be included in the new design. We are forced to make an “up or down” decision regarding this project."

Council Members Lewis and Carlson voted against placing the measure on the ballot but lost that battle to the Council Majority of McKeithen, Widmer, and Dobbie. Now Lewis, Weist, and DeGolia and the rest of the town have to live with a 75% vote in favor of Measure M- which as the Opposition Statement noted: "there is now no place for negotiation."

McKeithen and Widmer pushed for the ballpark ballot measure on the same day they accepted the opposition to the library in park requests for a town vote.

Hopefully, future councils will not draft ballot measures which require negotiations as "Up or Down" votes.

Posted by Mandates
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 2, 2014 at 8:56 am

In the last couple of years, the elections have told a story. Seventy percent of the town voted No on the Library in the Park, Yes on New Town Center, Yes on a Little League ballpark, Yes on the Parcel Tax, Yes for Council Members Elizabeth Lewis, and Rick DeGolia, and almost seventy percent for Cary West.

Hopefully the mandates will end "the rift" and let the council produce results.

Posted by Irony abounds
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:37 am

What if Pres. Obama said he didn't want to hear complaints about the NSA or Obamacare because he won the last election? The post above by Mandates is incredibly ignorant.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2014 at 8:30 am

Why was this issue put before the voters?
Did the Council Members assume that the baseball park would fail and the library would pass instead?

Whatever their assumptions, they certainly knew the scope of the project. The Little League presented a slide show and video to them during a meeting. It was a grand vision. The scope was by no means small.

So, rather than shepherding this offer through various committees and commissions, they chose to put it on the ballot. Let the people decide. After it passed, they then tried to send it through the planning commission, but it was too late.

When the voters pass a measure, the interpretation is very strict. As it should be! The will of the voters prevails over the wants and desires of the Council or its Commissions.

If those Council Members didn't want this to happen, they shouldn't have rolled the dice and put it up for an election vote. Or, those who were against this idea should have put forward a better case before it passed -- by a large margin!

People calling for the Council member's heads should target the ones who put it up for vote in the first place. 3 of them remain seated.

Posted by Irony abounds
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2014 at 9:04 am

Perspective has an interesting twist on this: blame "WMD" instead of the three council members (Lewis, Wiest, DeGolia) who voted to let this grandiose plan pass. But, the actual facts are contrary to Perspective's twist.

Here is the IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS BY THE CITY ATTORNEY back from when Measure M was put on the ballot. I have capitalized certain words for emphasis.

The planning review anticipated by Measure M did take place. Lewis, Wiest, and DeGolia ignored it.

It is baffling why the City Attorney is now doing an about face from his written impartial analysis. It is more baffling why Lewis, Wiest and DeGolia have allowed him to do this without being held accountable for his original words.

Text follows:

The Town of Atherton has received a proposal from the Menlo- Atherton Little League to construct certain improvements to the existing Little League baseball diamond in Holbrook-Palmer Park. It proposes a number of improvements to the field and surrounding facilities, ranging from leveling the field, erecting temporary removable outfield fences, and construction of a small electric scoreboard and permanent foul line poles. Of perhaps greater significance is a desire to install covered seating grandstands and new restrooms that will result in permanent improvements to the area. The cost of such improvements will be paid for by the Menlo- Atherton Little League using only private funds. There will be no taxpayer’s funds used to complete the proposed improvements.

THE MENLO-ATHERTON LITTLE LEAGUE PROPOSAL HAS NOT BEEN THROUGH THE NORMAL ATHERTON PLANNING PROCESS AT THIS TIME. THE CITY COUNCIL HAS DETERMINED THAT IT WANTS CITIZEN INPUT WITH RESPECT TO THE SIGNIFICANT PERMANENT IMPACTS OF THE APPLICATION. The measure therefore asks voters to decide whether permanent structures associated with the Little League baseball diamond area of Holbrook-Palmer Park SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE CONSTRUCTED AFTER APPROPRIATE PLANNING REVIEW; specifically whether or not to allow construction of covered spectator seating, an improved playing field, and new restroom facilities in this area of the Park.

If approved by the voters, the grandstand and restroom permanent facilities will be allowed in Holbrook-Palmer Park; however, if rejected by the voters, this measure will prohibit such permanent improvements in the Park. VOTER APPROVAL OF THE MEASURE WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY GRANT THE LITTLE LEAGUE IMPROVEMENT PROPOSAL WHICH WILL STILL HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE NORMAL TOWN LAND USE REVIEW PROCESS.

Posted by Mandates
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

To: Perspective- you are right - with one exception. Only two remain seated- Lewis opposed this deception on the residents.

To: Irony- you wrote: "It is baffling why the City Attorney is now doing an about face from his written impartial analysis. It is more baffling why Lewis, Wiest and DeGolia have allowed him to do this without being held accountable for his original words.".

Here is a likely reason for LWG actions: As written-you are right- Measure M only approves for the town to "ALLOW" the grandstand as written. Something which would have happened anyway.

Why would the council in 2012 waste money on a ballot measure that approved what would happen anyway?

Did the staff purposely draft a measure that would either defeat the grandstands or put the decision in council's? Or was done it by accident?

My guess is now the City Attorney and Council Majority did not want to discuss how Measure M was drafted, and how such a waste of money occurred.

Posted by Dat's right!
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed. Please talk about the issue and drop the personal attacks.]

Posted by Another Questioning
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

It does feel like the voters were bypassed on the actual extent of the ballpark. Something in the process didn't work and it sounds like Atherton has given up normal planning control to outside influence!

Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

too bad, so sad

Posted by Now what?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Is any action going to be taken on this issue? It seems like mayor Cary Weist has some explaining to do, at minimum.

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