Plan to connect Main Library, Art Center draws ire | July 1, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 1, 2011

Plan to connect Main Library, Art Center draws ire

Community gardeners fear loss of space

by Janelle Eastman

A proposal to improve the connection between Palo Alto's Main Library and its Art Center, both on Newell Road, is infuriating community gardeners, who fear the proposed improvements would threaten garden plots at the site.

This story contains 668 words.

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Editorial Intern Janelle Eastman can be emailed at Jeastman@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by more bike racks, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

People drive to much in this city. Why don't they just put up more bike racks?


Posted by James Hoosac, a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

"Bird habitat and buffer zones are not 'unused' or 'dead' space ..."

Next time the excuse would be the earthworms. LOL


Posted by Follow the money, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

Sounds like they had some money left over so they figured out a way to use it. This was not in the library plans or the art center plans. How much will this add-on squander?


Posted by Guard the Gardens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

James Hoosac:

If we could just get rid of those pesky earthworms, the world would be a better place. Oh, yes, and birds. And buffer zones. While we're at it, let's pave over the Bay. And bar gardeners and environmentalists from the entire Bay Area.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, James. LOL.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 1, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

A privilege has been converted to an entitlement?


Posted by punishment, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

So,what are you going to do with it?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Anything the City decides, in its wisdom, to do. Perhaps we need to vacate all such private uses of public property every 5 years just so the holders recognize they are there as a guest.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I think the design looks great and it makes such sense to tie the two facilities together - and the multiple parking lots! With the number of people who use both places, the fact that only 6 garden plots would be removed is a tiny price to pay to gain what looks like a nice outdoor gathering place. Getting rid of the shed (aka as an eyesore and home for people living in their cars...) is a bonus!


Posted by now, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Why bother to wait five years,it is the time now,go ahead,we are waiting for it.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Yes, the shed has become the unofficial car campground. Now the campers are not even trying to hide it - they are there all day too.


Posted by Guard the Gardens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

It does seem like the planners are making up new plans to use up available money. Could they find better ways to do this? Could the money be reallocated to other projects? Why tear out plantings and garden plots to change and add more paving? The garden shed can be torn down if it's no longer needed. Why not replace it with more garden plots? Why not encourage gardeners to donate food to the downtown food closet?

These "guests" are using the space for far better purposes than the proposed project would. Why evict them periodically just to make some strange point, Walter Wallis?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

The proposed project would benefit everyone who uses the library and/or art center. The shed's "guests" are just a few people as are the 6 renters of the garden plots that may be removed. This is not to prove a point, it is to beautify a well used space.


Posted by Guard the Gardens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 4, 2011 at 9:04 am

Palo Alto Mom:

The "guests" I was referring to were the gardeners, not the homeless folk, who, by the way, don't seem to bother anyone except perhaps to remind us that we need to have compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.

But where are these "benefits" you talk about? There's no problem walking to the art center from the library, and vice-versa. Parking is rarely in short supply. The gardens are a pleasant place to walk, give people an opportunity to grow healthy, local food, and furnish them with a relaxing outlet to the stress in their lives. There is a two-year wait for garden plots--six fewer plots is not a trivial change, if counting people who lose a benefit is all you want to consider.

This seems to be a project no one has asked for, as follow the Money points out. I'm glad those who enjoy and support the community gardens in Palo Alto are raising questions about the so-called benefits and desirability of this particular plan.

I'm not a plotholder, but I enjoy a walk through the various community gardens in PA from time to time, and I think they add to our quality of life here. Let's not chip away at this site, but value it and preserve it.


Posted by Peter, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

They are also planning on removing trees to connect the art center and the library. This is another Group 4 project. That group seems to not care about trees AT ALL. Case in point the 73 trees removed at Mitchell Park library. I would not use them for any project. I see no innovation and good ideas in their designs as well.


Posted by Follow the money, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I agree about Group 4, their designs leave much to be desired. I looked through the windows of the downtown library and was not impressed, but I'll wait until it opens to see it.
I don't know who created the desire for a connecting road? Need to follow the money.


Posted by Guard the Gardens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Yes, Follow the money, the dangers of exiting onto Newell, a street with very light traffic, turning right, going one block, and turning right again, seem to be just a trifle exaggerated. It looks like a case of "Here's this plan. Now let's go find some reasons to do it."

Removing trees for unneeded parking spaces and more asphalt makes no sense either.

How about finding another use for the money, if it must indeed be spent?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Guard the Gardens, that "strange point" is protecting title to land. The garden plots are a private usage of public land, a questionable practice anyway. This claim to a right to use that land is precisely why the lucky few need a reminder. I doubt that many cities grant such privileges.


Posted by Guard the Gardens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

Walter E Wallis: First, how is title to the land lost when it's rented to city residents? Second, how is the private use of public land questionable, when it's a city program that charges fees and has been approved by the city council? Third, how is this particular use any different from renting city facilities to private people and groups, as, for example, the art center being used for art studios, concerts, etc., or Lucie Stern being rented for all sorts of activities?

Finally, advocating for continuation of a popular and useful city program is not the same as asserting what you call a "right" or "entitlement." These gardeners--and all residents--have a right to assert their preference for gardens, trees, and buffer zones over encroaching driveways, parking lots, and car exhausts.


Posted by Follow the money, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Taking away the garden area isn't the only violation of public expectations by Group4.
In the downtown library the use of the highly touted community room will cost $45 an hour during times the library is closed.
Which is every evening and several days each week.
Something was terribly deceptive with the former library administration and perhaps her bosses in the city as well.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2011 at 7:27 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Guard, a rental agreement does not grant title to land and is revocable. If any title better than month to month is granted, the city attorney is [again] lax. If a different use is proposed by the city, the city's preference is paramount. And $45/hr seems about right to rent a facility.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

Follow the money - was $45 an hour too much or too little to rent the community room? It seems pretty reasonable to me.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Guard, I've made that turn often, & while I don't consider Newell St. traffic to be light, it's not an inconvenience to do the right, then right into the other driveway. Clearly, if we've all been capable of doing it for decades, we can still do it!

The only benefit I can think of w/going forward w/this waste to your coffers, is that it *may* reduce the number of offleash dogs in the library area, but I wouldn't hold my breath...


Posted by Follow the money, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

$45 is an average of $34 an hour for residents and $51 an hour for non residents. (please correct these numbers if they are wrong).
Given that we residents just gave the city $4 Million for this remodel, we should not be charged for its use. $100 for an evening meeting may be nothing to a large organization, but to a small group or a nonprofit it is a lot, enough to make it impossible.
On the other hand, the city staff will be able use it free whenever they want to because they can have authorization for access at anytime.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Follow, smaller groups can always meet in a coffee shop or, quietly in a library.


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