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Editorial: $8 million for gym, with strings

Original post made on May 2, 2008

The disclosure last week that an anonymous donor has offered the city of Menlo Park $8 million or more toward building a new gym — provided he or she can choose the contractor and help manage the project — is an interesting proposition, but one that is loaded with potential pitfalls.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (5)

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm


I did not hear the absolute position that the name of the donor was witheld throughout the entire project. I only heard it was held until there is a contract. Is that not true?

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Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on May 4, 2008 at 2:46 pm

R.GORDON is a registered user.

It is most likely that the contractor has already been chosen and is not from San Mateo County which could create some questions about "a gift horse" and why so many of our rich "philanthopists" are choosing to go outside the area, like San Jose. One would think, that since they have different building codes, it would make it a lengthy process in the construction.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Dear Sir,

Agreed. Under no circumstance should the identity of the donor be withheld and/or concealed.

The fact that this is a high stakes transaction is irrelevant. Even small deals should be transparent.


This is a public government. This is not a private corporation but a public one.

Your other points are extremely valid but when we strip everything away, this is a public matter and because of that singular fact, the donor's identity should be disclosed.

If any elected official fights for this on our behalf then he/she should be thanked for doing his/her job.

Thanks for your editorial.

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Posted by J
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 5, 2008 at 9:32 am

I think it is okay for a donor to remain anonymous IF and only IF the city takes the money and uses it the same way they should for every process. A public RFP, multiple bidders, etc. It happens all the time on the up and up...this one sounds shady.

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Posted by Truth be told
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 7, 2008 at 11:52 am

The anonymous gift by the person who wants to anonymously control construction of Menlo Park's proposed gym has the fingerprints of John Arrillaga all over it. He's been constructing and renovating buildings at Stanford for more than a decade, including just about everything associated with athletics.

He built the new stadium, as well as a gym that bears his family's name. Unbelievably, the gym was built without locker rooms and showers! But not to worry -- he simply wiped out part of a grove of oaks to add showers to another building nearby. This gym also was built without adequate ventilation -- but he came back with new fans. The athletics department offices are in yet another building that bears his name -- this one around a basketball court that was, alas, built too short.

If behooves the Menlo Park City Council to keep a close eye on their anonymous donor if he is John Arrillaga (or anyone else). There are reasons for public accountability laws!

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