Facelift planned for popular Eleanor Pardee Park

Park to get more trees, tables and seating; drainage issues to be addressed

It's been the site of controversy due to limb-dropping eucalyptus trees and a public restroom that some residents feared would attract vagrants, but with those issues now in the past, Eleanor Pardee Park in Palo Alto is being prepared for a genteel makeover.

Crescent Park's grand dame at Center Drive and Channing Avenue is the city's second-largest neighborhood park, according to the City of Palo Alto. Its 9.6 acres include an oak forest, turf areas, two children's playgrounds, a picnic area with barbecues, a jogging and walking path, community vegetable gardens, a U.C. Cooperative Extension Master Gardener demonstration garden and a 9/11 memorial.

But age spots are showing in the browned turf area where soccer games take place, and play equipment in the tot lot is nearing the end of its safety lifespan. The picnic tables look worn and isolated; more a place where young couples cuddle on a Wednesday afternoon than where checkered table cloths show off spreads of food for a family day in the park.

The $625,000 park improvements planned by the city would include 27 additional trees (including 17 oaks and 10 new flowering trees), new playground equipment, surfaces and a fence around the toddler playground; new picnic tables, receptacles and drinking fountains and a resurfaced asphalt jogging path that surrounds the large turf area, Peter Jensen, a city landscape architect, told residents during a community meeting earlier this month.

(View plans -- PDF)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Keri Gordon, who grew up playing in the park, was playing "boo" with her toddler nephew. She appreciated the planned improvements and said she hopes more picnic tables will be added, perhaps in the cement bowl area.

"I've never seen anyone use it in my life," she said of the bowl. The site seems useless -- a half-hearted attempt at a skateboard bowl, she added.

Planned seating on the periphery of the turf area would be a welcome addition for people who watch soccer matches, she said.

Gordon still loves the park, where she used to climb a now-departed tree near the tot lot.

She pointed to the picnic area where the tables were hidden by trees and back toward the oak forest at the park's furthest end.

"It makes me think of teenagers drinking in the area," she said.

Jensen said a decomposed-granite path would be added to bring strollers back amid the venerable oak canopy where now only leaf litter obscures the scratches of paths made as people walk toward the community garden.

Native drought-tolerant plants with colorful spires and flowers in a range of purples, oranges, yellows and other eye-popping colors would be added. More benches would be placed near the main turf area, where trees would provide a mix of shade and sun. Drainage issues that make some turf areas soggy would also be addressed, he said.

A 42-inch-high fence would be constructed around the tot playground. It would help keep animals away from children and could help keep toddlers confined to the space, he said. The aging playground equipment could be replaced by a modern design or rustic looking, tree-house-inspired design, he said.

James Romero sat on the grass as his daughter ran around the tot lot. Generations of footprints speckled the sand in the tree-dappled light.

He would like to see a water park where the children can play and more swings, he said. Residents at the community meeting said they want a drinking fountain in the tot area and an attached water fountain that is near ground level for dogs to prevent them from hopping up to the humans' fountain.

Jensen said he would consider the potential drinking fountain. The final draft plans are expected by fall or winter, with construction to take place in spring 2013. Work would take about three months to complete, he said.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

Once again our city leaders and elected officials somehow free up another half million dollars plus for certainly a desired, but very much a non-essential expenditure. For many years these same city leaders have proclaimed and decried the unprecedented financial crisis that we face and annual budget deficits. Vital and essential infrastructure and public safety needs remain unfunded, but yet they proceed with just the latest in a long line of fluff, feel good projects. When they're not doing that, they're buckling under to another special interest or friend's group who consistently shout down any suggestion of user fee hikes or outsourcing.

If it couldn't get any more irresponsible or worse, when the issue of funding our vital civic needs are discussed the only response from our city leaders has been to float another bond measure and tax increase. In other words we face a widening budget deficit, have no way to pay for our foundation needs, we keep spending on non-essential projects at the tune of millions of dollars, and the solution is to return to the tax payers with hands out crying poor. After all of the poor planning and mismanagement that's how we expect to solve this problem. The thought alone is beyond insulting.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2012 at 10:40 am

To Marrol:
To MY knowledge...the people who live around and near the park didn't start this!! There's nothing wrong with that park. We're more concerned with burglaries. The city has hired some sort of master gardener who is evidently looking for something to do!! I've lived here a long time and have not heard of any special interest or friends' group' pushing this. Why don't YOU find out and tell us.

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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

Bob, I couldn't agree with you more. I walk through this park several times a week and I, like most people I suspect think the park is just fine. Also I didn't suggest that a special interest group was behind this park make-over. I stated that this was an example of non-essential spending. In the next sentence I stated that if the city isn't spending irresponsibly, like in this case, they were bucking under to special interest or friends groups like animal services or the Children's Theater for example.

I too have a much greater concern for addressing our vital infrastructure and public safety needs than creating a new management position for an urban forester. It makes no sense and is highly irresponsible. Our city leaders claim that we can't afford to pay police officers and firefighters and cut several of those positions, but yet we can afford to pay a six-figure salary to an urban forester. Are they kidding or truly that far out of touch.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Not sure why Bob feels the need to jump on Marrol. His concern and points seems quite legitimate to me.

I also think it is quite awful when posters suggest their neighbors who disagree with them should live elsewhere. That's the ultimate in non-neighborliness and just leads to the retort that the other folks should be the ones who move. Bob, I'm sure you are more civil and neighborly that that.

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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm

And Bob, what I won't do is discourage others from expressing their opinions responsibly and within the rules of this forum. If you don't care to read someone's opinions then there is a real easy solution, don't read it. How about that?

As for the Children's Theater issue, I certainly have no hatred toward that group so spare us the drama and histrionics. I simply refer to PACT as one of many examples of spending the city should reconsider in light of our current budget crisis. I also asked what I believe was a relevant question related to their promise in 2010 of raising private funds in order to avoid user fee hikes and/or budget cuts. Like other friends groups they successfully shouted down cost cutting measures in large part by making that promise. I simply ask if they were successful in doing so. Most recently the animal service friends group did much the same thing when faced with being outsourced. So, if we're going to let these groups off the hook from accepting these measures, are we ensuring that they're making good on the promise. Seems like a perfectly logical and relevant question.

One last thing Bob, I've been in Palo Alto for over half a century and respect the fact that our city has long been known as a place of tolerance, open communication, and understanding. It's troubling that you wish to expel me from Palo Alto just because we have a difference of opinion. Again, I have always attempted to state my opinions respectfully and within forum rules. I've never made calls to ignore, expel, or silence others. Now go back and read your post and tell me who is the one "ranting" here.

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Posted by Janice
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

The only reason Eleanor Pardee Park is being refurbished is because the City has too many park administrators who have to be given jobs to do. It's the same thing with California Avenue. The City hired Jaime Rodriguez to oversee transportation and they have to give him something to do. Too many administrators with too little to do - they are make work projects.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I'm with Marrol

If we can't pay for our infrastructure then we shouldn't be redoing parks or financing Childrens Theatre programs.

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm


This coming year the city's budget is $6 million more than last year. However the city & citizens have more they want then there is available money: the city staff want's more of the budget devoted to their pensions & benefits, the "green" special interests wants more money for a compost factory, widen the plastic bag ban, among other things, the bike special interests want more money spent on street modifications for biking, the library special interests should be coming with a request for $1 million for increased operating expenses once the new Mitchell Park library opens, and the list goes on & on.

I don't know about you, but in my household, we have wants as well, but our income isn't increasing to meet all of our wants, so we prioritize. And usually the basics come first, like making sure the mortgage is paid, repairs around the house, our cars are maintained, and we save for our less critical items (like the next fancy cell phone, tv, or computer).

My expectation is that the city council & city staff do the same. I'm glad that they got off to a great start by having the blue ribbon infrastructure commission assess the extent of the needs. But the commission's work has been done since the end of last year, and now it's time for the city council to do it's job and start prioritizing the needs in relation to all the other activities thats in the city's budget. So far, I have to say, that what I see is the city manager prioritizing activities like public safety lower than funding futher studies in the compost factory, or redoing Eleanor Park; funding another assistant to the City Manager for sustainability, and redoing Californai Ave against animal services.

If it was me, I would have prioritized things differently, and I'll vote in November for some different faces for city council, because it's clear to me that some of the candidates aren't up to task.

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Posted by CC
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm

(In refer. to the article) If I go to a shop to buy something, I would only pay at the cashier and not to anyone who hangs around the shops. If we need to elect someone to be the president, the votes have to be coming from this country and not other place.
It's interesting to see these city folks always set aside pet money and not paying the bill.

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Posted by Park Neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2012 at 10:58 am

If any renovations are going to be done at Eleanor Pardee Park,
please include a restroom. People come for soccer games and picnics and need somewhere other than the bushes to relieve themselves..

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Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

STOP FIGHTING . !!! (and go to the park)

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

Eleanor park has public restrooms? I never knew or heard of that and I walk or bike ride by their fairly often. Imagine that … guess I can move out of my home and move into the park now that it's civilized! ;-)

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Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

How about a City Tree - ie. there are no Redwoods in the plan for new trees at the park.
You took one out when the Eucs came down, please put a few Redwood back in - and find a way to water them - perhaps from the well down the block.

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Posted by Noel
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I live nearby and am often in or around the park. The playground was renovated several(8-9?)years ago and new equipment put in but my kids are past that age now. Overall I am surprised the city is choosing to send this much money on an already well functioning park in a time of financial crisis.

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Posted by Naphtali
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

It would be spectacular if the landscape architects placed north at or near the top of their plans, provided a north arrow AND labeled the adjoining streets. Only a native can make sense of such plans otherwise.

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Posted by a fan of Sue Dremman
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Pardee Park is fine the way it is - maybe just some minor improvements but just like our family we should not spend money we don't have! I think a water fountain that functions is important and a restroom so people don't have to use the bushes would be nice. The walk way does have some rough spots but they could patch those up like they do the streets.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:39 am

I'm happy to see that there will not be restrooms. It is a neighborhood park with limited parking. Restrooms would invite non-residents to spend the entire day there. The park and the surrounding community of homes does not need any more traffic or parking woes.

In fact, I question the need for additional tables. We do not need to turn Pardee into Rinconada Junior.

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm

"Restrooms would invite non-residents to spend the entire day there." Don't forget your own residents, Dad. Sheesh, what a snob.

1 person likes this
Posted by Liberty
a resident of University South
on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm

My family lives equidistant from Pardee Park, Heritage Park and Rinconada Park. My kids like Pardee the best. So i can't understand why you would pour 625k into "fixing" the park that is already better than the brand new Heritage Park?

Bathrooms would be nice. I understand people don't want people coming from every surrounding city to their neighborhood park, but it is a long stressful walk home with a 4 year old that has to pee. And if you have more than one kid, they all have to leave as soon as the first one has to be walked home to pee.

But i guess that's what bushes are for.

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Posted by Michelle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm

We go to Pardee Park most days. I would say it doesn't need any improvements, though a restroom would be good. It would be nice to see fewer off-leash dogs in the mornings. Most of all, it would be great if the city could stop over-watering the grass. Some of it is little more than a mud-bath, and mosquitoes are becoming more noticable.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of East Palo Alto

on Jun 4, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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