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Plans for Rinconada Park renovation underway

Original post made on Jun 22, 2012

Plans for a renovated, better-connected Rinconada Park in Palo Alto are underway, but residents won't see major changes any time soon. "The park will look the way it does now for another decade," said city landscape architect Peter Jensen during a Public Art Commission meeting Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 22, 2012, 7:53 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Lin, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:53 am

Since the Rinconada Pool was built the population and grown immensely. I hope the plan will add another pool the same size for all the new people in our area !


Posted by Frisbee, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:12 am

Three decades? I just hope that this won't mean that the park will be a construction zone for the next 30 years. Hats off to the people of the future who will enjoy this.


Posted by A, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

I think most of these plans are forgetting that the primary purpose of a park is to provide open space for kids (and others) to run around, play Frisbee, pick-up soccer games, etc. In other words all the activities they can not do in our semi urban environment with tiny back yards. The more structures you build in a park, the more they encroach on the open space. Placing structures right in the middle of an open field may have an aesthetic appeal to a landscape designer, but it has the worst impact on the useability of the open space.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:35 am

I like the idea and location of the proposed Bocce courts.

At first glance, I question the idea of establishing a "wedding and event" area. Weddings? I sincerely doubt anyone wants to have a wedding that close to one of the busiest streets in the city, let alone where anyone and everyone else is using the park as well.


Posted by Judith, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Please no wedding venue at Rinconada!


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

In these days of financial cutbacks and shrinking budgets, why is the city spending money to redesign and ultimately rebuild both Eleanor and Rinconada Parks? Both are lovely and extremely useable as they are; what sort of financial irresponsibility promotes redevelopment of things that work well while ignoring the urgent needs of the PA Animal Shelter, the inadequacy of both Fire Station 3 and our police station, the sorry state of many of our streets, and other things in far more critical condition than two well-loved, well-used city parks.


Posted by DD, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm

No wedding venue, please!


Posted by jardins, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm

A, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood: I totally agree with you. As so often with this town, basic needs are being overlooked while the rush is on to make everything "world-class."


Posted by jardins, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Sandy, your questions are important ones. The best of luck with getting anyone in City Hall to answer them fairly and accurately.

It may well be that our elite managers and consultants don't consider the animal services or the condition of fire stations and the streets to be indicators of the quality of a community--they're not glamorous, are they? It's like a stage-play--umpteen photos of the cast in their costumes and makeup, but none of the backstage crew, even though their work is crucial.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm


Most people who use Rinconada Parks are not PA residents.

It should be gated and non PA should pay at least $15 for access.

Same with the Children s zoo and the pools


Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm

And Sharon knows this because she cards people that she sees at the park, zoo and the pools? I'll make sure to wear my Stanford ID around my neck in that case!


Posted by P.A. resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Sandy and Jardins. It's ridiculous how the City spends money! We don't have to impress anybody. Let's get our bills paid first.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I'm happy that the bulk of this renovation project is being deferred for quite some time, but I have to point how it glaringly represents the city management team's lack of focus and sense of financial priorities.

In the midst of a financial crisis and facing annual budget deficits, it is unfathomable to think that our city leaders and elected officials would spend even a minute mulling over and approving funding for completely non-essential projects like this park upgrade, new playground construction, a bike bridge, art center remodeling, commercial district make-overs, and the list goes on.

All this feel good and fluff, but nothing to address our vital civic needs in the area of infrastructure and public safety. Their only solution to this essential funding problem, why nothing less than another bond measure and tax increase. Unreal. After years of poor planning and frivolous spending this is what they hit us tax payers with. Again, all I can say is unreal.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Additionally, it seems as though that many of the city's attempts to offset the widening budget deficit with moves like outsourcing our animal services, or imposing fee hikes to Palo Alto Children's Theater participants are stifled with resistance. It's becoming a common theme that even though it is very apparent that sacrifices have to be made in order to help balance the city budget, that these attempts will inevitably be blocked by the special interest groups. I'm not certain if our city leaders and elected officials lack the courage and fortitude to make the tough choices, or if it's just a matter of not wanting to appear uncaring or insensitive to these causes. Their lack of follow-through and losing sight of the greater good however is disabling the city in what should be their pursuit to maintain our infrastructure and properly fund our public safety departments.

With that said, we know that one reason the city has held off on imposing user fee hikes, like in the case of the Children's Theater, is that as recently as 2010-2011 the PACT Friends Group pledged to raise private funds as an operational alternative. Palo Alto Online reported that the city back away from their original plan based on that promise. The new Animal Services Friends Group has recently made a similar pledge. So I will respectfully ask this question again. Did the Friends of the Children's Theater raise sufficient funds, as they pledged to do, to match what the city and tax payers would have saved by imposing a fee hike?

I maintain that this question is absolutely relevant to this discussion. If our city leaders move to implement fee hikes, and then back off when the special interest groups complain, someone has to hold these groups accountable for the promises they made. And it can't just be a one year fund raising effort while things are in a crisis mode. No. They must demonstrate that they can sustain this private funding indefinitely. It's ridiculous to take them at their word and not follow up. So I'm still wondering, does Palo Alto Online, or anyone else with credible information know if the Children's Theater Friends Group successfully met their fund raising goals? If they accept public funds to assist in their operation, then we as tax payers have the right to know.


Posted by Frisbee, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Sharon - non-Residents do pay more to use the pools. Also, non-residents are not allowed in Foothill Park at all. Glad San Francisco, London, New York and Paris aren't as snobbish about their parks.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

Respectfully requested and still waiting for any answers or clues on my above question . . .


Posted by Park User, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Sharon from Midtown says: "Most people who use Rinconada Parks are not PA residents. It should be gated and non PA should pay at least $15 for access."

I agree, that should go for all parks in Palo Alto. Mitchell Park gets taken over by adult soccer players. I once asked them where they were from and was amazed to find they came from Tracy, Gilroy, San Jose etc. and meet in Palo Alto to play soccer at Mitchell because it's in the middle of their geographical area.

I complained to the City and was told that because Palo Alto residents can use parks in other California cities, our parks must be open to anybody who wants to use them. How many Palo Alto residents play soccer in parks in Tracy and Gilroy?


Posted by C, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Oh well, at least the city knows who to ask when comes to money!
How could this renovation plan be approved when it is asking for a decades of financial and resources commitment!!! Are they trying to turn the city into a super construction zone? We've seen enough of them around all over the town these days.


Posted by Jean, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Someone in the city government is determined to determined to spend money "improving" a park that has met our needs for over 50 years. And of course a team of consultants has been hired to develop the plan and meet with the community. No wonder the city fathers are planning to try to pass a new tax initiative when they don't show any inclination to economize.


Posted by pa residents, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I am unsure if the people using Rinconada Park are PA Residents or not... and to suspect they aren't would be quite racist.

I do think there should be more supervision of what goes on at the park, especially on weekends. There is smoking, dogs running loose, alcohol, individual grills, and more. I'm not against any of these things per se, but I do believe that all are unacceptable per park rules.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Many people using the park on the weekends are indeed from neighboring cities. I have done considerable volunteer work there, I know. And making that observation doesn't qualify one as a racist either. It's simply a reality.

With that said, who is using the park shouldn't even be an issue. The park rules should apply to everyone, and as it stands, Palo Alto residents do have the priority when it comes to making picnic table and group area reservations. Limiting the park to Palo Alto residents only would make no more sense than San Francisco not allowing outsiders into Golden Gate Park.

We should feel fortunate that we are a destination point for shoppers, diners, and visitors.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm

No to the wedding area. Talk about outsiders booking the place and bringing tons of traffic in, this is it! It would cost more to administer the program (with benefits and all) than they would collect in fees, too.
This is one point I'd like to make with regards to city expenditures and schemes: the notion of adding oddball "services" that add bureaucracy, staff (benefits, etc.) UNLESS they are truly worthwhile.


Posted by Neuman, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I live 1 block from the park, and we use it regularly. All of these plans will significantly decrease the usability of the park. They need work.

The plans should incorporate some idea about how people actually use the park.

Any idea where we can find out more about the process, so this can be put back on the rails?

The good news is that we have 30 years to get the plans right...


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm

The overall plan needs to be reviewed, undoubtedly. The city should also consider whether or not we need or can afford a project of this magnitude. When one factors in the current budget deficit and lack of a reasonable financial plan I would say it's a no-brainer.


Posted by Good idea, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

This seems like a good idea. Not sure about the wedding area though ;-)


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I happily spent time at not ONE but TWO Palo Alto parks yesterday. Yes, I'm a non-resident who used parks in PALO ALTO. Sharon wasn't on hand to card me, no one asked any of us where we were from, where we had lived, where we currently live or where we plan to live in the future. I was the only Palo Alto native in our group, everyone else was FOREIGN. They were not only NOT from Palo Alto, they were from different COUNTRIES in a different CONTINENT not in NORTH AMERICA. Some of them now live in Palo Alto, which is how we must've escaped Sharon's detection.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2012 at 7:53 am

Somehow I think that if non-residents from Scandinavia or western Europe were using Rinconada Sharon wouldn't be as opposed to it.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2012 at 8:41 am

I disagree with Daniel. It's not that I particularly agree with Sharon very often -- but I think this is not the case here (what daniel is saying).


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