http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2012/07/13/community-center


Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - July 13, 2012

Community Center

Right in the middle of everything

by Junesung Lee

When he moved to the Bay Area in 1965, college professor Marvin Lee wanted to find the perfect location to raise his two kids. With its wide array of family attractions, the Community Center neighborhood gave him exactly that.

"It has everything within a couple of blocks — swimming pools, the children's museum and library, theaters, Eleanor Park, and of course, the schools," he said. "It's so nice to be at the center of all this because the kids can bike everywhere. Mothers don't have to spend all their time just driving their kids from place to place."

After 45 years, the amenities that initially drew Lee to the area still exist today. "The odd thing is, the area itself has remained much the same as it possibly could. I would say it's still the same, great place to be," he said. "You have every conceivable public service within a two-block radius, and then a five-minute drive will get you to any shopping area you want."

These features also appealed to Karen Neuman and her family when they moved there 10 years ago.

"We picked this area because of all the conveniences for raising children," she said. "We've been able to walk to so many activities. ... We've been to tons of art-center classes, junior-museum classes and sports programs."

Julie O'Grady grew up in Palo Alto and saw no reason to move her family anywhere else.

"The area is so youth oriented and it feels like a homely community," she said. "My daughter walks to school or rides her scooter sometimes. It saves the parents gas money since our kids can walk just about everywhere."

Neuman said what have changed are the houses themselves.

"A lot of the older homes have been upgraded to newer homes," she said. "When we were first looking at houses here, I did think they would have to change within the next 30 years because of their age. But, it happened within 10 years."

Lee said the most recent change he's seen in the area is the influx of tech industry employees.

"They have discovered Palo Alto and are buying all the houses in sight. The last two homes on my block each sold for 5 to 6 million dollars. They were recently built new homes."

Rick Ferguson, president of the Community Center Neighbors' Association agreed that the tech industry has brought many new faces to the area.

"I do think it's safe to say there has been an increase in the usual rate of new families moving in. It makes the whole place more livelier," he said.

The community welcomes these new families to bi-annual block parties that have been going on for the past 40 years, as well as to other clubs and gatherings.

"I'm also looking to start wine and cheese get-togethers with the neighbors in this area," O'Grady said.

The neighborhood residents continually work to keep the area as safe as possible. For example, the neighbors on Parkinson Avenue successfully worked with the city to get a new four-way stop sign, one block away from the Children's Library.

"The people definitely do look out for each other," Neuman said. "Kids can walk to school or their friend's houses; it's very safe."

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FACTS

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Walter Hays Kids' Club, 1525 Middlefield Road

FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road

LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road, Children's Library, 1276 Harriet St.

LOCATION: bounded by Middlefield Road, Channing Avenue, Newell Road and Embarcadero Road

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Rick Ferguson, 650-327-3222, rick@skylonda.com

PARK: Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road

POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road; Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave.

PRIVATE SCHOOL: St. Elizabeth Seton School, 1095 Channing Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Walter Hays, Addison or Duveneck elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPING: Midtown, Downtown Palo Alto

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