Town Square

Playing fields measure only advisory

Original post made by Dave Gildea, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Oct 18, 2006

The very vocal opponents of the Menlo Park playing field Measure J either have not read the measure or they are being unprincipled.
Take two examples. The opponents claim Measure J will cost the city $17 million. Measure J is only advisory. Passing the measure asks the city to determine a cost. In any case, if the opponents are correct, the 17 acres of Measure J fields are a pretty good deal with Menlo Park property now costing about $4 million an acre.
The opponents claim the Bayfront site has environmental problems and will unearth hazardous waste. Passing the measure asks the city to investigate these issues. Maybe the opponents, including council candidates Heyward Robinson, Vince Bressler and Rich Cline, are against having this investigation because they fear the results will show their claims are overblown.
Menlo Park desperately needs soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football and softball playing fields. The fields being discussed would cover only 10 percent of Bayfront Park. All other options have major difficulties. Council candidates Lee Duboc, Mickie Winkler and John Boyle favor investigating fields at Bayfront. I urge anyone who wants a fair evaluation of playing field solutions to vote for these candidates.


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Posted by Budget watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 20, 2006 at 9:59 pm

Actually, it’s the Measure J proponents Boyle, Duboc, and Winkler who are unprincipled. They are trying to hide a clever political ploy behind an “it’s for the kids” clarion call. Don’t believe it.

As an advisory measure, Measure J gives the city permission to continue to spend money exploring the pipe dream of building playing fields on the shifting dump-on-the-Bay. Our Parks and Rec commission (including council candidates Robinson and Cline) already recommended other options for fields....but the Jellins council chose to ignore this.

If Measure J were to pass, it could cost Menlo Park MUCH MORE than $17 million if the new council actually attempts to build these fields. Experts have said that the preliminary construction estimates of $10-17M are far too low. And imagine how expensive it will be to maintain flat, safe playing fields on this old toxic landfill frequented by hundreds of pooping geese.

Didn't the folks behind Measure J try to build a golf course at Bayfront to raise money to cover the current $187k/year maintenance costs of the open space park we now enjoy?

Don't we have a utility tax on this ballot because our city's budget is in deficit?

The math just doesn't work. There's no way we can afford this.

It’s clear that Bayfront poses way too many environmental and technical challenges. Let’s not waste more time and money exploring this non-starter.

Vote No on J. Let's put this matter behind us and get on with the city's real business.

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Posted by PolicyWonk
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 21, 2006 at 9:34 am

I support using (small amounts) of BFP for playing fields, but I oppose Measure J.

Measure J creates a $17M sucking sound that will pressure future decision-makers into mis-allocating huges sums of public monies in ways described below.

If measure J were the minor question David Gildea suggests, it would be asked in the following way: "Should the General Plan designation for Bayfront Park be modified to include active recreation uses?"

And it wouldnt be politicized. DWB are making this "simple decision" the cornerstone of their political campaign.

Measure J "embeds" important hidden policy decisions, two of which I oppose.

1.) It re-prioritizes playing fields putting them ahead of the gymnasium and the rec center for the next round of Measure T money ($4.8M) and recreational monies without explicitly saying so, and without protecting their place in line.

By all accounts, the gymnasium is next in line for the next round of Measure T bond funding which is expected to be $4.8M.[*1]. After that, the new recreational center is next. Fields have already received well over $10M in Measure T, redevelopment, and general fund monies.

2.) Measure J invites Menlo Park to spend "rec-in-lieu" fees from new developments such as the Derry project on uses other than those that serve *ONLY* the residents of the project, as the law says it should
(c.f Section 15.16.020(5) of the online zoning code.)

Rec-in-lieu fees are accepted from developers "in-lieu" of dedicated park space FOR THE DEVELOPMENT. (The Seminary development had park space dedicated, so there were no in-lieu fees.) They are supposed to be used to acquire new park space or rehabilitate existing space *ONLY* for the residents of the development.

Mickie Winkler has repeatedly argued that the two new high-density, luxury condo projects will not impact schools because they contain few if any children, while at the same time she has argued that Measure J is "for the kids." Clearly in Mickie's own mind (and in her literature) she intends to direct rec-in-lieu fees earmarked for the new adults to uses for existing children, and that is a blatant mis-use of rec-in-lieu fees, and might even be illegal.

Measure J as written, does not protect future residents from mis-allocation of rec-in-lieu fees earmarked for them.

3.) Even if Menlo Park, used all the next round of Measure T funding ($4.8M) and all the rec-in-lieu fees from the massive condo projects planned for El Camino there will still not be nearly enough money to pay for any fields that result from Measure J.

To supplement the short fall, there will also be intense pressure, to make up the difference with GENERAL PLAN money that could to go to street repairs, the library, police and other uses.

Measure J does not forbid using General Fund monies to build the fields.

So who should pay for playing field? Field users should pay, that's who.

This council has conducted a four-year witch hunt of child care users demanding that they pay full cost recover for services which they always have. Its time we applied the same standard to playing field users.

Playing fields on a small, limited portion of BFP are fine, as are more playing fields funded exclusively by field users, but Menlo Park has spent enough on fields for now. Give other groups their fair share of money.

Vote NO on Measure J.