Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - September 7, 2012

Esther Clark Park

A neighborhood with nature at its doorstep

by Helen Carefoot

Esther Clark Park, a 21-acre area of land surrounded by Old Adobe Road, Old Trace Road and Manuela Avenue is a glimpse into Palo Alto's past.

Expansive Spanish villas and old-style ranch homes with huge yards (each plot has a minimum area of 1 acre) adorn hills covered with oak trees. Wild animals such as deer, jackrabbits and ground squirrels roam the grounds in between homes. Nestled just around the park, residents literally have nature at their doorstep.

Though the neighborhood has experienced increased development since Esther Clark, the founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and Children's Health Council, sold her land, the space retains the characteristic that makes it so desirable: its natural surroundings.

Marjorie Chauvel, who has lived in her home on Old Adobe Road since it was built in 1974, treasures the wildlife that surrounds her.

"My favorite thing about the neighborhood is definitely the wildlife," she said. "Deer come onto my property all the time, right by the house. It's also a wonderful neighborhood to take walks in."

An original resident of the neighborhood who bought her land from Esther Clark herself, Chauvel fondly remembers the original days of the neighborhood.

"There used to be this huge area across the hills that was vacant. My husband and our neighbor built a platform on that area and used to hit golf balls into the hills," Chauvel shared with a laugh. "It shows you how remote the place used to be!"

Though development has occurred since the neighborhood's early days, the area retains its peaceful atmosphere.

"We enjoy the quiet here," said Avi Meyers, a resident of the neighborhood since 1992. "We never hear any traffic here and the only noises we ever hear are when someone is getting their yard work done. It's a very nice place to raise a family."

Meyers thinks the combination of natural beauty and accessibility the neighborhood provides is a big draw.

"It's a beautiful area that's quiet and very rural, very green with open space and large trees, but still very close to downtown Palo Alto and Los Altos, as well as Stanford University," he said. "It's a very nice place to raise a family because it's close to schools, shopping, everything you could possibly want or need."

Residents consider the luxury of living in such close proximity to natural space a huge benefit.

"I think it's very nice to be able to take my young grandkids for a walk in the park and have them see something besides manicured lawns and playgrounds," Meyers said. "We see lots of wild animals like deer, birds and ground squirrels. I like being able to show them what nature really looks like."

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FACTS

FIRE STATION: No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road (after January 2013)

LOCATION: from Old Adobe Road to Manuela Avenue, off Arastradero Road, including Old Trace Road

PARK: Esther Clark Park, Old Trace Road

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School

SHOPPING: El Camino Real, Downtown Los Altos

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