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Comments on the Bedwell Bayront Park Master Plan

From: domainremoved <Kathy>
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:07:47 -0700

Chair Harris, Vice Chair Stanwood, and Commissioners Baskin, Johnson, Lane, Palesfsky, and Shenk:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Bedwell Bayfront Park Master Plan. I will be unable to attend the meeting tomorrow night and speak to you in person, so I am sharing my comments in this letter.
 As a long-time Menlo Park resident, I value Bedwell Bayfront Park as a unique gem in our community. Its large, quiet open space right here in Menlo Park allows for a quick escape from the noisy, built environment where most of us spend our days. Unlike any other park in our city, Bedwell Bayfront offers views across the Bay, the adjacent National Wlidlfe Refuge, and the salt pond restoration project. This park offers the unique opportunity to share space with wildlife including songbirds, shorebirds, raptors, foxes, and more – all within City limits.

Master Plan Process

The staff report asks the commissioners whether the draft park plan reflects the community input. I believe that it does – to the extent that it reflects answers to the questions that were asked.

I have been engaged in the Master Plan process since it began. Unfortunately, the process did not offer participants the option of keeping the park as-is. There was no option to address critical the park’s maintenance and safety issues without adding new activities and so-called enhancements.

Staff and consultants alike explained to me that this bias was a result of the goal they were given to identify additional revenue for the park. I understand that the wasting endowment set up to maintain Bedwell Bayfront is close to expiring, and that additional funds need to be identified.

This does not mean that we must look to park activities to generate this income – in fact, none of our parks should be responsible for generating revenue to cover the costs of their maintenance and improvement. Funding for Bedwell Bayfront should be provided through the City’s General Fund.

It’s instructive to read the many comments that Callander Associates collected in this process: many, many respondents (myself included) are quite happy with the park’s current “amenities,” and simply want to see it well cared for, returning the level of maintenance and ranger patrol that the park enjoyed until the cuts several years ago. This is my vision for the park’s future.

Prioritize maintenance and safety

I am grateful that the City is planning for the future maintenance and protection of this special park. As was suggested by the staff report, maintenance in Bedwell Bayfront Park has been subpar for several years, since the budget was reduced. Although some deferred maintenance was taken care of immediately before this planning process started, trails are in disrepair, litter accumulates, and mowing is sporadic. Similarly, safety issues at the park have increased greatly since the removal of the ranger patrol.

The priority for Bedwell Bayfront should be to address deferred maintenance and park safety. We must also ensure proper maintenance of the landfill leachate and gas recovery and preparing for sea level rise.

Appropriate uses at Bedwell Bayfront Park

The City Council respected the leadership of former City Manager Mike Bedwell (who had the foresight to establish this park when the landfill closed) enough that they renamed the park in his honor several years ago. I did not know Mr. Bedwell, but I appreciate his vision for quiet, peaceful open space. As a result, Bedwell Bayfront Park offers something special, and very different from our City’s other parks.

Any development or improvements proposed for Bedwell Bayfront Park should ensure protection of its quiet setting and natural resources. Similarly, any development or improvements should be allowed only if they take advantage of this park’s unique setting and characteristics.

Nature education is a good fit

Bedwell Bayfront offers great opportunity for all-ages nature education. This can be done with no or very little actual infrastructure and development. For example, additional interpretive signs (and maintenance or replacement of the current signs, some of which are in disrepair) and some ranger-led or volunteer-led programs would be a great way to help visitors enjoy the park.

Improved access is a good idea

Improving the surface condition of some of the dirt trails at the park will increase access to those who have limited mobility, allowing more people to enjoy the views and quiet open space at Bedwell Bayfront Park.

Dog park, play area, and gliders are not appropriate for Bedwell Bayfront

Some of the uses proposed in the draft Master Plan are not appropriate for this quiet, natural environment. Specifically, the dog park, play area, and glider use are inconsistent with this quiet open space.

Unlike any other park in town, Bedwell Bayfront has important wildlife habitat – foxes, burrowing owl (populations of which are declining), many species of resident and migrating birds, and other wildlife all live in or pass through the park. Off-leash dogs, whether on trails or in special areas, disturb and threaten this wildlife, and should not be allowed.

Similarly, the use of model gliders (and any aircraft) can disturb birds and other wildlife, as well as park visitors. Aircraft of any kind are not appropriate in Bedwell Bayfront Park.

Don’t mess with success
Menlo Park has made a success story of turning a landfill into a lovely quiet open space with views of and access to one of the most innovative habitat restoration projects in the nation, and offering habitat adjacent to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The result is a lovely, natural open space – unlike any of our other parks.

As so many of the Master Plan process respondents indicated in comments, there has been no public call for adding “amenities” to Bedwell Bayfront Park, or to spend millions of dollars the City doesn’t have on these so-called improvements. Of course, any proposed development will mean not only significant investment now, but increased operating and maintenance costs into the future.

I’m confident that our City can find a way to address the park’s deferred maintenance and need for a ranger to ensure visitor safety and protection of natural resources, so that Bedwell Bayfront Park continues to be a success story for Menlo Park and the entire Bay area.

 

Thank you.

 Kathy Switky

76 Nash Avenue
Received on Tue Oct 10 2017 - 18:12:59 PDT

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