Town Square

Latest Twists on Sports Fields

Original post made by Soccer Dad, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Oct 25, 2006

It seems that the surge of public support for building more playfields has some of the challengers changing their positions from "who says we need more playfields" to "I can build playfields faster than they can."

Heyward Robinson in a mailer this week and on his website now claims: "I have created fields before, successfully negotiating with Stanford to build the fields along Sand Hill Road." Can someone please tell the voters what role Mr. Robinson played in negotiating and building playfields at Stanford and what that has to do with Measure J?

Rich Cline's website (Web Link) says "I don't want to wait for studies and EIRs -- the demand far outweighs the supply now...I want full-sized fields where we were promised they would be -- in our neighborhoods....I would like to also find new areas for land acquisition -- and continue to push for new territory as we fix the current fields.” Well so much for public input and process. Can someone tell the voters which neighborhoods are ready to accept night-lit, competition sized fields in their backyards? And what about land acquisition in the heart of town. If we can’t afford the $1 million/acre at Bayfront, how are we going to purchase land for $3-5 million/acre in town? And the claim that the city built too much parking at Kelly Field…..well I guess Rich has not been there on an AYSO game day.

Lets get back to the facts - all Measure J is asking is whether or not the community wants to use 10% of an open space preserve for playing fields. Why aren’t any of the opposition candidates stating their position on THAT question?


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Posted by Coach
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2006 at 9:12 am

No one negotiated with Stanford. That should have been the job of the current council, but because they were unaware of the hotel until it was practically a fait accompli, they couldn't get any leverage there.

The challengers have all said they will abide by the outcome of Measure J but want to explore the possibilities for fields all over town, beginning with restoring a full-sized soccer field to Burgess. I'd be happy to have a full-sized field in my neighborhood, by the way! Better that than the super-high-density housing the current council has been trying to foist on us.

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Posted by MP voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2006 at 10:42 am

Here's something no one seems to be talking about -- who in their right minds wants to drive their kids eastbound on Marsh Road between 3 and 6 p.m.?

Forget about the astronomical cost, the potential environmental problems, or the desirability of uncapping an old dump for a moment. Is anyone thinking of the traffic implications to having playing fields at Bayfront?

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Posted by SportsWidow
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2006 at 3:22 pm

The renovation of Burgess Park was supposed to result in an additional field that is missing in action. The drawings show it, but it isn't there. The very same consultants looked at only four fields, including their Burgess field, and concluded that the only feasible place for more is at Bayfront Park.
Besides the obvious concerns about astronomical startup and ongoing maintenance costs at that site, who would want to commute there and who would want to play there? I used to live in Foster City and know how vicious the winds can be along the bay. And we were just at a game in Redwood Shores where there was duck poop and feathers everywhere.
With some planning (a foreign concept to the Duboc/Winkler/Boyle slate) and some creative negotiations, we surely can find more suitable and less expensive sites. The Parks & Rec task force did a thorough analysis of just the fields around and concluded the same thing. But the "we know best" Council members wouldn't even listen or discuss the findings.

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Posted by Coach
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2006 at 8:34 pm

There's akready a lovely field east of 101, at Kelly Park behind the Onetta Harris recreation center. Soccer teams don't use it for practices because no one wants to travel there on weekdays. Bayfront is even less appealing than Kelly for the reasons mentioned by SportsWidow.

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Posted by W MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Oct 26, 2006 at 11:01 am

There is dis-information being presented about the Parks and Recreation Task Force field study. The study by the City Council Commissioned Task Force (not the subsequent Parks and Recreation modification), clearly stated that Menlo Park needs at least 2 addtional full size playing fields to accomodate the current needs of the various leagues and sports organizations in the city. The Parks and Recreation commissioners currently running for city council are now represetning that by adding .25 addtional space at an unknown cost to Burgess and Kelley filed, that they will be meeting this need. .25 + .25 does not equal 2. The third reccomendation of building fields at a Hamilton Ave. site has unknown costs and is not supported by the local community in that area. Check Google Earth and try to identify vacant land within the Menlo Park city limits on which one can build new playing fields. There is none. Bayfront Park is a viable alternative for field expansion within Menlo Park that should be invetigated. The environmentalist fervor against touching Bayfront Park results in such tortured logic that the Parks and Recreation Commission report actually reccomended investigation of building "roof-top" fields as part of the El Camino redevelopment as an alternative for providing field space for our children. The various other recommedations of the Parks and Recreation Commission report are as impractical as the "build fields on roofs" reccomendation. It is unclear why the environmentalist faction does not want anyone except the passive use activists to utilize Bayfront Park. Evaluating placing playing fields at Bayfront Park to provide the 2 addtional fields that we need is a prudent course of action.

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Posted by Coach
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2006 at 12:24 pm

WMP, for starters:

1) Menlo-Atherton High School. In return for donating millions of dollars to their performing arts center, perhaps the city can negotiate more field time. The school already has three good-sized fields, including one with all-weather turf.

2) St Patrick's land. Beautiful. Unused. Maybe we can't buy the land, but I bet we could come up with an agreement that might be a win-win all around.

3) The Veterans' Administration property. Ditto.

4) Holbrook Palmer. Yes, it's in Atherton, but right now Atherton offers only limited use of their park, so most Atherton kids play on MP fields. Time for some quid pro quo here.

5) Vacant El Camino car lots. Palo Alto has a soccer field on similar land just across from the shopping center. Again, this would have to be obtained through negotiation--the city can't afford to buy the land outright.

Google Earth, although providing a fascinating way to spend a few hours, is probably not the best way to locate playing fields for our athletes. And I hadn't heard of rooftop playing fields, but if we're going to Manhattan-ize El Camino (as Lee and Mickie seem to want to do) then that may become a viable option, along with highrise schools. After all, the residents of those ultra-high-density housing units need to have some place to play.

Putting fields at Bayfront is an election ploy foisted on us by the same folks who brought us the monster home ordinance and Derry. They think it will help them get elected. They also think Menlo Park voters are pretty dumb. It doesn't make sense to build fields there, and it's not going to happen. But I suspect you already know that.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 26, 2006 at 7:31 pm

It was my understanding that after much input from sports groups, the soccer field at Burgess was reduced in size in order to accommodate a bigger baseball diamond and allow for the future expansion of Burgess Gym. Aren't we just playing a shell game if we now expand the soccer field into the baseball field or use the space set aside for the new Burgess gym?

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Posted by Coach
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2006 at 7:53 pm

The plans that were posted at Burgess throughout the construction (and apparently are still available somewhere on the Burgess campus) show a full-sized soccer field as well as the bigger diamond. But whoever was supervising the job, apparently the same consultant that's being used for Bayfront, was not paying adequate attention.

The concrete housing the irrigation needs to be moved, a few parking spaces should be eliminated, and the landscaping has to be modified, and then Burgess can accommodate a full-sized field.

It would also have been good if the skatepark had been built behind the recreation center, where the temporary portables were located. How shortsighted is that?

There is plenty of room to build a second gym by placing it alongside the current gym, where the theater building used to be. I believe that space is used for parking now.

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Posted by Mp Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2006 at 8:58 am

We can't just Take St. Patricks and Veteran's Adminstration lands. These would have to be purchased at market land rates. These organizations cotrol their own resopurces. Won't even beging to address the falacy of aborgating Holbrook Palmer Park. Menlo-Atherton fields are already used by the city programs to the maximum extent possible. The El Camino land is also not big enough for fields and also has an acqusition cost. If one is honest, they can clearly see that continuing to float these impractical ideas is not a solution.

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Posted by MickieIsThatYou?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 27, 2006 at 9:24 am

Negotiation is the key.

Where IS that spellchecker when you need it!

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Posted by Wink-Wink
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 27, 2006 at 5:54 pm

Here we go again with the council majority's "If you're not for us, you're against us" philosophy.

God forbid any of them might acknowledge that someone else's idea or criticism might have some merit. But no, let's not cut-and-run from the Bayfront Park idea. Let's stay the course and ignore the nattering nabobs of negativity while the incumbents channel the silent majority that only they can hear.

Possibility: Little League successfully negotiated with Atherton for limited use of a field at Holbrook-Palmer Park.

Problem: The VA has been opposed to allowing kids on their fields, mostly over liability worries about mingling kids with disturbed vets.

Wake-up call: Kelly Field is city-owned and looks like a ghost town most of the time. I know there's a shortage of field space, but if it's really that desperate, wouldn't teams be willing to play at Kelly Field?

Also, Mickie -- I mean, W MP Resident -- I don't see anyone suggesting TAKING land from the VA or St. Pat's -- negotiating for use is not the same thing as TAKING.

And, next spring, Woodside's first playing field is set to open, on undeveloped land magnanimously donated to the town by a resident. Since the majority slate is so tight with all of MP's developers and landlords, maybe you ought to lean on them for a donation that would benefit residents, rather than your campaign bank accounts.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2006 at 10:44 am

Atherton hosts soccer practices twice daily Monday through Thursday at Holbrook-Palmer Park. The groups are many and they fill all the large grassy area at the park. Atherton is making a contribution to the leagues which seems to be often overlooked.
A resident

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Posted by Paul Collacchi
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 28, 2006 at 6:38 pm

There is likely to be a lot more cost for environmental analysis than $250,000. A night-lighted field near migratory paths and Federally Protected wetlands will almost certainly trigger the Federal National Environmental Project Agency (NEPA) in addition to the California equivalent (CEQA.) I do not know if the "lead agency", in this case Menlo Park, is required to pay for the NEPA bill, but I suspect it is.

Together the CEQA and NEPA processes are likely to take most of the entire term of the council elected this November, so the council elected in November will not be the council to build the playing fields, if they are ever built, if the money can be found, and if approvals can be obtained.

Cline is fundamentally correct in noting that alternative locations would be built more quickly.

There are no fewer than four (4) governmental agencies that have regulatory and land-use jurisdication over portions of Bayfront park, and Menlo Park is not one of them, meaning the final approvals would be granted by some entity other than Menlo Park, even if voters like the idea.

Frankly, I have always supported using some, limited portion of Bayfront Park for playing fields, but the more I see and learn the clearer it is becoming that it is financially, technically, and politically infeasible.

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Posted by long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 29, 2006 at 6:18 pm

The answer is not at Bayfront Park, but it has become the only option offered by some members of our current city council. There seems to be a big rush to win over voters for J on the upcoming November ballot by offering only one option for more playing fields. It has been presented to many voters and parents of children who need more sports fields that if we don't approve the measure to develop Bayfront Park for that purpose that there we be NO new sports fields. We need to take it a little slower and do more financially responsible research on this project. 18 mil plus seems a lot of money to me to develop a piece of property just because Menlo Park already owns the land, and because, in our limited vision(and that of the current city council) seems to be the only property available. Just a few suggestions for starters. Couldn't we buy or lease land for less than the 18 mil(plus the costly upkeep of the Bayfront land)? What about the new location of the auto dealerships across 101? They have extra acreage to lease or sell that they don't need. Or buy some property that has homes/buildings and rip them down. St. Pat's location would work if they would lease it out. Kelly Park is still a viable option also.