Between the annual block parties, swim meets at Rinconada Pool or simply walking their children down the street to Walter Hays Elementary School, the residents in the Community Center neighborhood have a knack for keeping themselves busy.
From Peter Allen — a resident who was one of the founders of a local fiber-to-the-home network — to parents volunteering at their kids' elementary schools, there is always the hustle and bustle of residents who play an active part in their neighborhood.
Community Center — bounded by Embarcadero Road, Middlefield Road, Channing Avenue and Newell Road — is cluttered with minivans, gleaming sports cars and well-kept front yards.
The kid-friendly attractions — including the Children's Library and Junior Museum and Zoo — bring families to the neighborhood, which has a lot of action on Halloween, Allen said.
Richard Ferguson, president of the Community Center Neighbors' Association, said that a little focused volunteer effort and a healthy sense of humor can go a long way.
He's been an active member in his children's schools, in addition to his association work. "It's a pleasure to stay involved in civic matters," Ferguson said.
There are a number of activities that residents put together for the kids in the neighborhood and also for the adults.
"The Community Center Neighbors' Association supports block-party social activities, volunteer participation in other civic organizations and collaboration with city government when there's value added both ways," Ferguson said.
Allen, a father of two, said there is a kids' roller-derby event that takes place every year, organized by a resident who happens to be the vice president of engineering at Pixar.
Along with the roller-derby event, residents host a few social events every year.
Rick Adams, a resident since 1998, has been organizing street parties for the last 10 years.
"We have an 80 percent turn out," he said. Once held in mid-June, the date of the party has moved to mid-September, since that's after school has begun and most people are in town.
The street parties involve a lot of food and activities for the kids in the neighborhood. The street is shut down, tables and chairs are rented and residents are able to mingle with their neighbors.
"Last year there were about 30 kids under the age of 10 at the street party," Adams said.
Judith Mante, a mother of three, said her husband enjoys the block parties because it gives him a chance to network with his neighbors and see what else people are interested in or involved with.
"You meet people you don't meet otherwise and you get to see what activities they are involved in with their children or with their career," Mante said.
Allen, vice president of the Community Center Neighbors' Association and a resident since 1990, got to know a lot of his neighbors while trying to launch the fiber-to-the-home community network.
In 2001, about 70 houses signed up for the fiber-to-the-home network trial and 40 percent said they would like to keep the local area network, he said.
"It is exciting because our neighborhood was on the forefront of this municipal network," he said.
Over the years, Ferguson believes the Community Center neighborhood has seen a wonderful flourishing of new families.
"It remains a healthy and valuable place for a young family to put down roots and grow — as my own family did — and for old folks to thrive as well," he said.
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.
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Rick Ferguson, 650-327-3222, email@example.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 or Duveneck elementary schools, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: Midtown, Downtown Palo Alto
MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,950,000 ($770,000-$3,900,000)
HOMES SOLD: 13