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Should Menlo Park look into building sports fields in Bayfront Park?

Original post made by Richard Hine, editor of The Almanac, on Oct 20, 2006

Should Menlo Park look into building sports fields in Bayfront Park? This is the question posed as Measure J on the Menlo Park ballot Nov. 7. To read the Almanac's Voter Guide story on this topic, click here: Web Link

Post your comments by clicking on "Add a Comment" below, and vote in the Almanac Online News Poll on the home page.

Comments (16)

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Posted by MP Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 20, 2006 at 5:35 pm

This idea is so preposterous that even this City Council won't pursue it without a mandate from the voters.

Voters will see this for what it is: a fiscally and environmentally expensive project that makes no sense.

It's a complete waste of time and money to even explore it. I'm voting NO on Measure J.

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Posted by Sports Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 20, 2006 at 11:49 pm

As a mom with kids playing field sports I still say NO on Measure J.

I feel that Winkler and Duboc have used our field crisis to create a wedge issue that has become the cornerstone of their campaign. They are exploiting sports groups and parents with this false hope. I would like to see the city pursue viable solutions that will create fields in a timely manner and in our neighborhoods. Yes, we need more fields, but Bayfront Park has way too many obstacles and is one big pipe dream. Read the Almanac Editorial on May 3rd and then read the guest editorial by Jim Maddison on October 4th to see solid perspectives on this issue.

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Posted by Pragmatist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 22, 2006 at 9:27 am

Yes, the city should look into building sports fields on a small portion -- perhaps 10 percent -- of Bayfront Park. If the city finds it environmentally or cost prohibitive, it shouldn't move forward. But it's worth checking out. It also won't ruin the open space features of the park for those looking for that. Let's be pragmatic, and not turn everying into a political or ideological issue.

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Posted by SoccerMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 22, 2006 at 1:23 pm

The council already has the authority to investigate building fields at Bayfront. No need to spend taxpayer money to put the question on the ballot. The only reason that Measure J is before us is that the incumbent slate thought they could use it as a divisive issue that would pit sports parents against open space advocates. Does anyone remember that just a year ago these same incumbents were decrying the expense of maintaining Bayfront and insisting that we needed to generate revenue from that property? And now they want to consider sinking another $17mm+ into it? I think we have a credibility gap here.

Note also that the three challengers have all agreed that they will abide by the results of the Measure J election. All three are actively involved in youth sports and understand the need for fields, but want those fields to be conveniently located on less controversial sites.

My own prediction? No matter what happens with Measure J, no matter who wins the election, there will never, ever be sports fields built on Bayfront.

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Posted by Pragmatist
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 22, 2006 at 4:42 pm

One of the raps on the council is that it pushed ahead with a golf course proposal for Bayfront Park without fully consulting with the community on the options. Because the sports fields idea is so divisive, the council felt it was necessary to settle the question: Do residents want the city to spend money to investigate the idea? Or just drop it? There are strong voices on both sides of this issue. Let the voters decide.

The city is holding an election anyway. Will this additional measure cost that much more? Besides, it could be argued that this measure will energize as many opponents as proponents of the incumbent slate.

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Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 22, 2006 at 8:41 pm

I find it disappointing that Rich Cline and Heyward Robinson, both members of the Parks and Recreation Commission and proponents of listening to the people ignore the fact that their own Parks and Recreation Master Plan dated October 1999 recommends that the city consider building an executive golf course and sports fields at Bayfront Park. This document, written before Ms Duboc and Ms Winkler were ever elected to council was prepared with extensive public input as the basis for how to spend Measure T funding.

Mr. Cline and Mr. Robinson now seem to want to ignore that public input and are against getting more public input through the ballot measure. They say that there are too many unanswered questions, but fail to mention that the next step in the process, an Environmental Impact Report would cost the city at least $250,000. Why would any responsible council member or commissioner want to proceed with such an expensive study before knowing whether the community supports converting the park from passive use to active use.

It seems that Mr. Cline and Mr. Robinson want to have it both ways. They want more process when it suits their special interests, but oppose it when it does not.

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Posted by roxie rorapaugh
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 22, 2006 at 10:07 pm

The measure cost $30,000 to put on the ballot.

If it passes, the next city council might be pressured to begin more costly steps. A complete design and Environmental impact report will costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. If it is decided that the fields can not be built after all, which is likely, then that money is wasted. In the meantime, while the designing and environmental review is going on, we will have no money to build fields at alternative sites--even if they are located. The city could spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars and still not have a single soccer field.

I agree with SoccerMom that regardless of whether Measure J passes, there will never be sports fields on Bayfront Park, you just can not build them on that type of landfill for any reasonable price. Even if the estimate of $17,000,000 that proponents of the measure claim were true, should we really be spending that much for a couple of soccer fields on a closed (but still decomposing)landfill, that is often cold and windy anyway? If Measure J is passed it will just force the city to waste $250K or more on environmental reports and plans to tell us what we already know--this landfill is not a good place for sports fields. It will waste money, time and community energy--commodities in short supply already.

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Posted by Concerned Voter
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 23, 2006 at 12:22 am

One of the plans that Hillview Middle School has to rebuild that campus is to double the size of its playing field, largely by building two-story classroom buildings. Is the city taking that factor into its equation?

Councilwoman Lee Duboc says the city can't find other sites for sports fields. Do you disagree with that?

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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Oct 23, 2006 at 12:31 am

Richard Hine is a registered user.

For more posts on the sports field issue, click here: Web Link

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Posted by Bazile
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 23, 2006 at 9:40 am

Another Duboc debacle! Here is an idea - take the nearly acre of land we just handed over free to the Derry Developer and put a play field on it??? It's centrally located, easy to get to from anywhere in MP and is close to Foster's Freeze where the kids can go after practice! Or better yet use the money that Derry gave the city in compensation for the free land and increased density and buy/make/create/rent fields - ooops Derry didn't give the city any compensation for all the freebies!

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Posted by WillowsHomeOwner
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 23, 2006 at 11:26 am

I dont remember the 1999 Master Plan *RECOMMENDING* "...that the city consider building an executive golf course and sports fields at Bayfront Park ...", but I do remember it designating BFP as a potential RESERVE location for fields and other uses.

I always interpreted RESERVE location to mean, "later, in the future" AFTER the community-approved mix of fields, parks, gymasium, recreation center, etc. were built, and after the initial rounds of Measure T bond money were spent fairly on a BALANCED mix of uses for our community.

At that time, a diligent council did investigate the golf course option, formally rejecting it 5-0 (including Jellins) on March 19, 2002. Which raises the question of why Duboc, Winkler, and Jellins approved re-investigating a golf course in November of 2005. Then, they agreed to study a solution which would have filled-in Federally protected tidal-wetlands to build playing fields, which the developer later admitted was a known non-starter.

As part of the November 5th staff report, staff raised the simple planning policy issue as to whether or not the General Plan designation for BFP included "active recreation" uses, and neither Duboc, Winkler, or Jellins had any concern then about the policy implications of active uses, when they approved the Golf Course for the second time.

Now we are told that Measure J is a simple planning question to the community about whether or not we should support active uses on BFP.

I support limited active recreational uses at BFP. Always have.

But I now know that fields are technically, financially, legally, and politically infeasible, and I don't support giving the next round of Measure T funds ($4.8) to more playing fields-- we need to build a gym-- and I dont support using rec-in-lieu fees from future housing developments, which by law are suppposed to be spent on the future residents of the development (read the zoning code), on existing residents.

And I dont support Measure J.

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Posted by Home Owner
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 23, 2006 at 1:53 pm

NO on Measure J. Don't waste another dime looking into sports fields at Bayfront Park. And I'm a parent with two small children who will likely need playing field access in the near future. Let's look for somewhere viable to add playing fields, like Encinal School or elsewhere. And let's send Hoodwinkler and Dubiousoc packing in a couple weeks for doggedly driving this nonsense.

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Posted by SportsLover
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Oct 23, 2006 at 1:53 pm

This is a good example of how local politics extend to national issues. Bayfront Park lies adjacent to a wildlife refuge. A real gem of the bay area. I participate in field sports several times a week, and love to have wonderful fields to play on, but this is a completely inappropriate location for new fields. Would we build a soccer stadium in Yosemite? I exaggerate to make a point. We can find other locations for field space in Menlo Park and surrounding towns, and we should. But Bayfront Park should be taken off the table.

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Posted by Nature Lover
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 23, 2006 at 4:03 pm

I oppose putting play fields on the former garbage dump site at Bayfront Park. The health impact to the children using the play fields is unknown but potentially serious. And the environmental impact to the wildlife re-establishing there is certainly deleterious.

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Posted by Homeowner in MP for 30 yrs
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 23, 2006 at 5:55 pm

I'll vote NO on Measure J. Bayfront Park should remain as open space for the use of all ages. Surely there are positive-thinking citizens who would participate in a multi-jurisdictional study of the most economically and ecologically feasible way to acquire additional sites for children's field sports. Create a task force; cull talented, wise thinkers from our city and from all contiguous municipalities to pursue legitimate, feasible options.
It is shameful that the City has spent $30,000 to put this ill-conceived measure on the November 7 ballot.

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Posted by SportsWidow
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2006 at 4:08 pm

This is a waste of taxpayer money that could be used elsewhere. The city needs to look at existing fields in MP and other cities whose athletes use ours for possible modifications (artificial turf, lights) and to look at possible changes to game schedules (Sunday games, staggered seasons). If the city would ever revisit its master plan, including recreational facilities, the need for fields could be addressed in the broader context of other sports needs and other uses such as housing and revenue producing businesses.
One of many problems of Measure J is that the voter advice is being given in a vacuum. Would the vote be the same if asked "Would you be willing to forsake a new gym and rec center to develop a few fields here)? Or "Would you be willing to bet $250,000 (invented number) that the environmental reports will allow development here?"

When major property owners ask the city to bend its rules, the city should negotiate hard for land and for funds above and beyond the normal (quid pro quo for giving more to the developers). This certainly didn't happen when Stanford proposed the Sand Hill Road/280 hotel complex. Most people don't realize this was 21 ACRES of open space. In addition to the hotel, the project includes more than 100,000 square feet of office space (NOT the kind that generates revenue to the city). The Council just rolled over and didn't even ask, much less demand.

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

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