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Opinion: Parking crunch at Menlo library, gym

Original post made on Feb 21, 2012

What horrible news it is to have two of the most popular venues in Menlo Park, the Menlo Park Library and the new gym, creating parking problems, full lots, back-up traffic, double parking and worse.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 2:47 PM

Comments (27)

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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Tim Goode certainly is correct in his assessment of the current situation about parking problems for the Library and new Gym. What is so sad that this was all vetted during the approval process, and the MP planning department and Chip Taylor, the City's Traffic engineer, claimed no problem would exist, despite what looked to many as as an obvious debacle about to happen.

So what now? The new Gymnastics facility will open in a few months and it will bring even more parking problems, even though it is located on the other side of the City campus.

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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Stick in parking meters and charge the price that will cause there to be a few spaces available. Problem solved, but I doubt this is a complicated enough solution for Menlo Park. Best to hire some more consultants and put some gold plated bureaucrats on the case.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I found the parking lots for the gym and library full on Saturday afternoon, but found plenty of room down by the baseball field. It's a walk past the skate park, but it's not a long walk. Problem solved, if you are able to walk.

For those for whom this distance is unmanageable, maybe drop them off at the library.

An important question: Why drive to the library when you can ride a bike or walk? I normally ride a bike but walking is 20 minutes from Allied Arts.

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Posted by Some Guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Are you crazy? That's un-american!
I would rather wait with my engine running for 15 minutes so that I can get a close parking space than have to walk a few hundred feet.
[Portion deleted.]

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Posted by songster
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm

We always bicycle to the library. We put the younger kids in a Burley wagon and the older one rides her own bicycle. It's fun and healthy and there is lots of available parking.

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Posted by Some Guy Too
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm

It's the fault of those damn old people who still insist upon reading stupid stuff printed on paper - when are they ever gonna learn that if it ain't on the Internet or on TV, it ain't worth it???
Tear the library down and put up a Starbucks, I say, so that I can grab my latte double mocha while my rug-rats play at the gym!

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Posted by Histrionics
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Meanwhile, the Menlo Park Library Commission has concluded the following:

The Library Commission has concluded that in general, Lot 6
seems to be adequate for both facilities, except during months when league sports and
tournaments are held at the gymnasium.

more: Web Link

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Posted by only in MP?
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 22, 2012 at 6:31 am

a parking issue at the library will soon be resolved as soon as Atherton builds their library in the park. This will shift the overflow down there, they will have lots of parking for all.

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Posted by comeonover
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:22 am

only in MP? suggests that the parking problem will soon be solved after the library is completed in Holbrook Palmer Park. Estimted to be 11,000 square feet with plenty of parking. There will be at least 10,000 volumes and seventeen computer stations and plenty of room for reading and community activities. Also it will be in a beautiful park. Forget Menlo Park Library and come on over to Atherton.
Here is a description taken from the Atherton Town report to the Council:
There is tremendous potential synergy in locating the library in the park. Current uses of the park
include leisurely walks, exercise, play activities, enjoyment of nature, and sporting activities. Current
uses of the library include: leisurely explorations of information and literature, mental exercise,
children activities, community discussions, and lifelong learning programs. All of these current uses
are compatible and are primarily process oriented. Locating the library in the park holds the
potential to further connect and make more convenient resources for families and the community.
Additionally, a building designed to respect the natural beauty of the park and encourage graceful,
indoor/outdoor spaces would be an asset to the community.

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Posted by Futurist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

Joe's suggestion that people walk if they can is all well and good, but if they can't? Have someone drop them off? That is not a viable option for a number of people. What do they do? Not use a community resource that they thrive in and probably pay taxes for?

This is a problem that didn't have to materialize if the town's leaders had had more foresight. Even the library commission report identifies significant periods of time when parking for library patrons is a problem. The renovation of the Civic Center doesn't happen every year or even every decade. Council members should have understood that the city had to make an investment in the future, and should have addressed the parking issue with underground parking or another type solution that, although it would have cost more money, would have been a wise use of funds.

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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

One solution presented during the planning commission meetings... double deck the lot nearest the gym.

Also it was pointed out that people are parking for the train station in these lots. Solution, 2 hour limit.

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Posted by Some Guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

With that name you sure don't think far ahead, do you?
If those that can walk or bike do, then I am willing to bet there won't be an issue for those that can't.
But of course, in America, we take the all or none approach.
Well, you said people should bike and walk, so I just assumed you meant ALL people should bike or walk, and that you were hating on the elderly and handicapped.
Interesting logic.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm

My comment: Just because we pay taxes for something such as a library doesn't mean we don't need to consider making small sacrifices such as walking a bit to get to it.

The car and its partner in creating a problem for the climate -- the parking lot -- may not yet be anachronisms, but they are certainly candidates for routine skepticism in light of the alternatives now available.

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

And, these are the same City planning people that want
to change the downtown area..... They didn't listen when
the citizens said that there would be a problem with
the gym being so close to the Library.

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Posted by john slater
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I remember sitting through a MP City Council meeting and being reassured that parking would not be a problem. Good government only occurs when we hold officials accountable. Is anyone figuring out who should 'walk the plank'?

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Posted by Rick
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Prior to the gym, the library had mostly sufficient parking. Now it doesn't. MP planning & the MP traffic engineer said parking was sufficient for both. They were wrong. That makes it their responsibility to find parking for the gym users somewhere other than in the parking lot for the library users. If providing parking for the gym users creates budget problems, get it from the Planning Department's and Traffic Engineer's budgets. It's called being responsible for your decisions.

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Posted by amazed
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Some guy interprets an earlier post, reflecting some odd assumptions. He says futurist's logic was "Well, you said people should bike and walk, so I just assumed you meant ALL people should bike or walk, and that you were hating on the elderly and handicapped." (Note the "hating" reference -- anyone heard THAT before?) He then concludes "Interesting logic."

I'd say to Some guy, "interesting but uninspired assumption." How on earth did you come up with such a silly interpretation? Can we have an intelligent discussion on this blog? How about solutions, like Vincent Bressler's? And I also agree with Rick about accountability. Meanwhile, does anyone besides Bressler have any constructive ideas to help solve this problem? You can't force people to walk or ride a bike, even if they're able, and you certainly can't expect people with limited physical abilities to walk. How does the city give gym users a place to park so that people who want (or need) to use the library can do so, regardless of their physical limitations?

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Posted by A Basketball Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

The back and side doors to the Gym are always locked which also promotes library side only parking for families. Open the side door or at least ONE back door so we can easily use the Administration parking lot AND the Skate lot too! Just a thought - since those locked doors access nice lawns, walkways, and other accessible lots! Less congestion in the front lot WILL happen if we can use those other doors the builders created - at least during basketball season! The gym has been a fabulous improvement for Menlo Park kids and families!

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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Agreed this was foreseen but brushed off, maybe to move the privately- funded gym ahead regardless. A decision that serves only part of the city.
Parking meters are not acceptable; that would affect the poorer patrons who use the library.
Any time limit short of all day is not acceptable because library patrons can stay there for hours and hours doing their thing.
The problem is not enough parking; the best solution is adding more parking such as a handicapped-kid-family-elder-friendly parking structure.

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Posted by Agreed
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

The Redwood City library has metered parking. And the lots are always full, even though I'd guess that MP is overall a more affluent community.

As a Menlo Park Parks and Rec commissioner when Measure T was passed, I guarantee that we invested much time and thought into planning the entire campus, knowing that the improvements would take over a decade to complete. The city even hired a consultant! The objective was to spread the load over the campus and ensure that there was adequate parking for each area -- pool, gym, rec center, library, fields, etc. Suffice to say that all that work was forgotten. The concept of real planning is anathema to those in charge of our city, and you see the result.

Oh, and I was one of many who pointed out the problem with the gym location and parking. But when you live in Linfield Oaks, any comment you make about Burgess is labeled "nimbyism."

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Posted by linda
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I'm one of those parents who drops their kids off during the afternoon to play ball. I would much prefer to park and escort them in, but if you don't play the very first game (when there are still slots) or if you don't happen to arrive at the lot during the switchover between games, you have to keep circling until you find a narrow spot to wedge your car into (and I drive a normal size car and not a huge SUV).

I totally agree with Scholar that this was foreseen but brushed off. All you have to do is take a 30 second look at demographics to see that MP is full of school age children, most of whom will participate in after school sports at Burgess. The only solution now is to add more parking.

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Posted by Frustrated by MP bureaucrats
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Yup.... the same city officials that continue to screw up downtown, driving away businesses and families, while maintaining the eyesore that is abandoned car dealerships.... and no other city in the area has as many vacant store fronts on the main street as Menlo Park. NONE. They are only interested in their own political agenda. NOT the betterment of the community for families and businesses that pay taxes. And the latest in their long line of screwups is the "head in the sand" approach to the Library/Gym/Gymnastics/Athletics center. Just imagine what it will be like when all venues are in full swing...just regular activities...not 'special events'. It's a joke that they are allowed to stay in matter how many times we try to oust every incumbent!!!!!

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Posted by Agreed
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

"...the eyesore that is abandoned car dealerships" is all Stanford's fault. The city could try to impose a vacancy tax, but since it would be clear to all that it's directed at Stanford, that might be politically infeasible. Stanford has an incentive to keep those buildings empty, and they don't care if they junk up our city.

"...they are allowed to stay in office." We do not elect these people. We elect a city council, who hire a city manager. We, the voters, have no say over the city manager. The city manager hires everyone else. So blame the bureaucrats.

The volunteer council members have enough to do without micromanaging the individual departments. It's not their fault. On the other hand, they could do a much better job hiring a city manager.

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Posted by more parking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Isn't there room for another lane of parking between the library and gym? The lanes are very very wide.
This was foreseen and the staff who said otherwise should be let go. This is incompetence.

The council has to hold the city manager responsible. They don't. But please don't blame the city for empty storefronts. Blame the landlords; many are out of town. The are no city rules that keep retail from filling storefronts. Yes, blame Stanford for most of the blight on El Camino, but also blame the property owners and developers of the other large lots. They have APPROVED projects but just aren't building them, perhaps waiting for the weak city to let them build even bigger.

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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Park on the railroad track side of Alma and Cross the street. Do what Vince Bressler suggests and put in 2 hour parking. How about some 15 minute parking for library pickup and drop off?

Maybe even some car pooling to the games. Not convenient? A little adjustment may be necessary. Is anyone seriously suggesting the gym should not have been built because of this minor, solvable parking issue? Should we have reduced the field to provide more parking?

The planning was just fine and it works pretty well - especially for those using the gym. The downtown plan is the same - a vast improvement with some minor problems.

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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

What would cause anyone to think that the city staff, commissions or their minders, the council, are capable of adequate planning for traffic, as it relates to a new or existing facility. One only has to look at Encinal School and Encinal Ave., Laurel School and Ringwood Ave. These are newly remodeled facilities with nightmarish traffic problems. I can’t imagine a private company, in the Valley or anywhere else, planning a facility without making it a high priority to plan for adequate entrance and egress, yet the city staff, the school district staff and surrounding government entities staff, seemed to ignore this issue totally, for these schools. Build a new gym in the parking lot of a city park, on top of the library and ignore the comings and goings of the users of these facilities…talk about compartmentalization or is it more…hey not my job man!

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Posted by Long Time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Fact Check #1: It never was the "Library parking lot." The official name for the lot is Burgess Park Parking. Granted it was used a lot by library patrons and over time many referred to it as the Library lot but it never was officially the "Library Parking Lot." Besides that lot by the new gym is NOT the closest lot to the library. The lot on Laurel before the administration building is the closest to the front door. I've NEVER had a problem finding a spot there. So if the library folks want the closest spot - use Laurel Street lot. Kid's parents have just as much right to use that lot as any other user using Burgess Park - regardless of their final destination, be it soccer field, skate park, play ground, duck watching, strolling, sitting on the benches, fountain watching, or using the library. They are all equal.

Fact Check #2: Parking at ALL Burgess Park lots has been impacted because construction of the new gymnastics building temporarily displaced 40 (I think that's what they said before construction began) parking spaces. The city said people would have to be patient until it's done. The new gym and gymnastics centers are a gift to the community. You'd think people would be more patient.

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