BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME ... The people have spoken: One of three designs for a new playground to be built at Bell Street Park in East Palo Alto emerged as the winner last weekend: Option B, which has multiple climbing features, including a rock wall, as well as swing sets and slides. The creation of the playground is completely community-driven, with the city hosting a design day in June to have community members look at and draw up their own plans for the dream play space. Soon after, the city released three design options and asked residents to vote for their favorite. Option B received a total of 224 votes, said Cynthia Bojorquez, East Palo Alto's youth and family services manager and Bell Street Park project lead. "Residents said they loved the 'active' nature of the design with its multiple climbing features and swings. And, community members offered a number of great suggestions, including adding more color to the design, exploring options to improve visibility within the playground, and addressing the overall safety of the area. Those suggestions have been given to staff as they work to complete the final design," she said. Next up in the process: preparing for a "Build Day" on Aug. 20 (preceded by "Prep Day" on Aug. 19), during which community volunteers will actually build the 4,000-square-foot park in a single day. "The whole approach is an old-fashioned barn raise," Bojorquez told the Weekly in June. The city is still looking for people to volunteer; any individual, group, or business wishing to get involved is encouraged to call 650-853-3153 or email email@example.com.
WHEELS FOR SENIORS ... Palo Alto resident and one-time City Council candidate Chris Gaither plans to launch Cardinal Transportation Club, a door-to-door driving service for local senior citizens. Members of the club will pay an annual membership fee, rather than per-trip charges, at three levels — Cardinal, Crimson and Cerise — which will ensure a certain number of trips each month (Cardinal, for example, guarantees four trips, while Cerise offers 16). The annual membership fees, starting at $200, were determined based on the cost for a senior to hold a VTA bus pass for a year, said Gaither, who has worked with seniors for 20 years in affordable housing and also worked for a limo company. "It's a very emotional decision when people have to give up their vehicles," either by choice or due to medical reasons, he said. Cardinal Transportation aims to help older adults maintain their independence, Gaither said in a statement. He is currently calling for investors to assist with the company's startup funding. The funds will help secure a State of California charter-party carrier (TCP) license, insurance and advertisements. He also has begun working with Avenidas Village, a Palo Alto-based senior membership program providing assistance and services, to become a preferred vendor for the program. "It's a very open field in terms of being able to supply this type of service. Executives have a lot of (transportation) options, but seniors not as much," Gaither said. The fleet will start with six vehicles, which seniors can reserve by phone, online or through a smartphone app.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT ... The fourth of July sparked Krystal Mendez's urge for a major shopping spree at the Stanford Shopping Center in the early afternoon, according to Palo Alto police. Several purses and sunglasses later, after Mendez made a large purchase at Bloomingdale's, employees at the loss and prevention center became suspicious. They double-checked the credit cards used and quickly discovered they did not appear to belong to Mendez. With prior convictions already on her record, Mendez was detained for violating her probation, according to Officer J. Bready. Once she was in custody, police said, they discovered she had more than 100 credit cards in her possession. It is probably safe to say Mendez did not see any fireworks that night.