With a kick and a snip, El Camino Park re-opens in Palo Alto | News | Palo Alto Online |


With a kick and a snip, El Camino Park re-opens in Palo Alto

Mayor Karen Holman scores park's inaugural goal in welcoming community to long-awaited park

Palo Alto's kick-off ceremony for the new El Camino Park was, quite literally, a kick off. Mayor Karen Holman scored the inaugural goal Tuesday, Dec. 8, on downtown's new soccer field at the small park that has been undergoing renovations for the past four years.

More than 20 people — mostly city officials — celebrated the grand opening of the park during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. In addition to the synthetic fields, the park, located at 155 El Camino, now features new trails and expanded parking.

Addressing those gathered on the sidelines of the new soccer field, Holman thanked current and former council members, the Parks and Recreation Commission, city staff and everyone else involved in the project for their "time and dedication" in making the park a reality.

"It's an amazing facility," she gushed. "I was walking around a little bit earlier and it's really phenomenal. It's been a long time coming."

"Most importantly, this field is for you," Holman said as she gestured to the crowd. "... We have this year, as one of our council priorities, 'Healthy City, Healthy Community,' and we've talked a fair amount ... about how happiness is a big part of healthy living, so if this facility doesn't make you smile, doesn't make you happy, let us know what else we can do because I think this really is quite an accomplishment."

After her speech, Holman stood alongside other city officials in front of a soccer net on the field and cut a red ribbon, welcoming community members to the park.

Holman also drew applause from the crowd when she scored the soccer field's first goal, placing the ball just inside the right goal post and out of reach of scampering goalkeeper Rob de Geus, director of the city's Community Services Department.

The reconstruction of the small park began in October 2011 when the park closed so that the city could install an underground reservoir. The city spent more than $5 million to renovate the park.

"When we design a park, we also need a lot of public input and we appreciated that a great deal," de Geus said. Now, "we have a wonderful park to add to the inventory."

The new park features two fields with synthetic turf, a new scorekeeper booth and bathroom, as well as four new field lights so residents can play in the evening. There is also a new bike path from the park to the downtown Caltrain station, an expanded parking lot and new benches.

The council had considered including a dog-exercise area in the park, but that plan was scrapped because of the park's proximity to San Francisquito Creek, which is home to endangered steelhead trout.

Castilleja girls lacrosse coach Claire Mancini, who was standing on the field watching her team kick around the soccer ball, said they were there to see the new field, which they hope they can practice on, and to show "our support for the City of Palo Alto," Mancini said.

"We actually don't have a field space, so we are always using city fields and practicing sometimes at Paly's, so this is a potential space," she added.

During his welcome address, de Geus mentioned a recent survey conducted in California about parks that asked thousands of residents why parks are so important.

"They combed it down to one sentence as to what is important and it was: 'Parks make life better,'" he said. "And I really believe that. We're so busy, working so hard. ... When you come to a park, things just relax a little bit. You can smile. You seem to be able to talk to people a little bit easier.

"It's very important to have a great park system for a healthy community, so I'm thrilled to have this park here today," he said.

• VIDEO: Watch Mayor Karen Holman kick the inaugural goal at El Camino Park

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2 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:43 am

I'm interested to know why it took 4 years to complete this park. I drove past it every day on my way to Menlo Park and always wondered what was taking so long.

Maybe there are good reasons: I just like to hear them, if anyone knows.

5 people like this
Posted by dog person
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

what does steel head trout and a dog park have to do with anything. The park doesn't run along the creek it runs along the railroad tracks. Will somebody please explain how this impacts the trout that don't run in the dry creek anyways. So again we have nothing in downtown PA for the dogs to run. This is why we should have off leash early hours in parks before the kids and people come and same in the evening after dark.

Like this comment
Posted by dog lover
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:24 am

Where are our dogs supposed to run and who cares about a bunch of people who like to run around kicking balls? There are plenty of places to kick balls no places for dogs to run

Same comment as dog person

Like this comment
Posted by NiceJob
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:41 am

This is a nice field, and a welcome addition to the area. I refereed on it one evening last week and it was quite nice. A little pruning of the trees in the NE corner (near train crossing) would be nice in order not to cast a shadow in that corner. And the parking and bathroom facilities are quite good. It does have something nice that Mayfield could use - path lights which remain lit after the large overhead field lighting goes out.

3 people like this
Posted by Does Castilleja pay to use city fields for practice? They should.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 9, 2015 at 11:42 am

I hope Castilleja pays user fees for the field space they use practicing.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Kudos to the City for getting this done. People should be prioritized over dogs. (Or has this town already gone to the dogs?) That said, I don't understand why there can't also be a dog park next to a creek.

Like this comment
Posted by may
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

excellent job - big enhancement on the old park

how will field use be scheduled or prioritized?
a private school lacrosse team wanting to use the new soccer field - the local soccer teams are squeezed for field space and all waiting to use the field too

Like this comment
Posted by dog person
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm

@Jonathan, I agree about people over dogs in parks but to say that they couldn't put a dog park in because of trout in the creek is ridiculous. I live by that creek there is no water in it at all, ever. In the spring when water might be there it is all dried up. For the city to just to sweep it under the rug and not to let the people know is not right. And again the dog park would of been by the tracks I thought

7 people like this
Posted by We are here, we are here, we are HERE!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Another public facility for residents of the north side of town, while residents on the south just get more density and traffic. We pay taxes, too, with many of the areas that most need public facility have as great a per square foot cost as all but the most costly areas (and with greater density). Our youth have no place to go nearby after school on this side. The only major public asset, Bol Park (with no buildings) the neighborhood bought and paid for themselves.

You're welcome. Now remember there are City codes requiring things like open space when there is development, and it's not fair to put in in north for development in south. (South not being one area, either.)

1 person likes this
Posted by Margaret
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Disgusting, plastic / concrete 'park'… good work!

1 person likes this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Ay Carumba! Another city run projects drags it's sorry droopy *** across the finish line. Four years to dig up a playing field, install a cistern, and cover it up?! That's basically what has happened in that space in ultra s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n. There is a reason why "More than 20 people — mostly city officials —" were the only people attending this 'ceremony' of a shamefully slow city lead project, no one remembered that there was a park there any more!

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2015 at 2:56 pm

@ We are here, we are here, we are HERE!:

You do realize that El Camino Park has been around for more than 80 years...it's not a new park by any means. And certainly you know that the park has been closed for the installation of an emergency water supply system - which benefits the entire city BTW.

I understand your POV - but at least pick your targets more wisely!

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