Updated Eleanor Pardee tot lot re-opens

Toddler area renovated as part of larger park improvement plan

Toddlers from Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood and preschoolers from St. Elizabeth Seton School gathered at Eleanor Pardee Park Tuesday morning to assist Mayor Nancy Shepherd with a ribbon cutting that officially re-opened the park's tot lot.

The toddler-dedicated area was renovated as part of a $600,000 project that also included re-paving the park's asphalt pathways and installing a more efficient irrigation system to reduce water waste, among other improvements. The tot lot's updates include new equipment, bright blue rubber surfacing and a 42-inch fence enclosing the space so that parents can let their children run free inside.

"It's turning out to be a beautiful park," Shepherd said, addressing the young attendees at the park on Center Drive. "My grandson is 2-and-a-half years old and he's going to want to play in it just like you."

Shepherd asked the 20-some preschoolers who was looking forward to playing in the park; every hand shot up in response. Then, she and the kids hefted a pair of oversized scissors and sliced through a festive red ribbon spanning an open gate to celebrate the new park. After cheering, the preschoolers lined up for free ice cream.

Also at Tuesday's ceremony were Councilwoman Liz Kniss and Peter Jensen, landscape architect for the engineering division of the city's Public Works Department.

The park's age 5-and-up playground has remained open during the renovations, as most of the improvements have been focused on the toddler area.

Another major goal in updating the park was to reduce its water usage, which the project addressed by repairing and retrofitting the existing irrigation system. The park's improvements also include new benches, tables, barbecues and drinking fountains.

Eleanor Pardee Park's tot lot is now the "most up-to-date" of all of Palo Alto's toddler playgrounds, Shepherd said.

Shepherd noted that the park was originally the site of an old Palo Alto estate, pointing to palm trees that may at one time have flanked a stately facade. According to Jensen, Eleanor Pardee Park was originally "created as the ideal park of the 1950s," with undulating pathways, grassy fields and numerous trees.

In recent years, however, local parents found the park's eucalyptus trees a source of stress, due to some poor trimming that caused limbs to break and come crashing down.

"There were some narrow misses," Shepherd said, with Kniss adding that "there was sort of an outcry to remove them."

The trees were eventually uprooted and cleared away, but the park was still on a "long-overdue list of capital improvements," Shepherd said.

This particular park was on a five-year schedule, Shepherd said, adding that the city now has a comprehensive parks schedule that calls for frequent updates to its many public open spaces.

The inclusive Magical Bridge Playground, Monroe Park and Hopkins Creekside Park are some of Jensen's other current projects. The city will also be soon embarking on a Parks Master Plan, which they'll be kicking off with picnic-style meetings where residents can give their input about the city's future park plans, Shepherd said Tuesday. The city is also hosting a community meeting Wednesday, May 28, 7 to 8 p.m., at Bowden Park to discuss proposed playground and landscape improvements for the High Street park.

"We're trying to find a different way to tap into people's visions for Palo Alto's parks," she said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

[Portion removed.] Let's hope that the new playground and park equipment is not soon covered with gang graffiti and/or vandalized.

Like this comment
Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on May 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Would that be that much of a problem in Palo Alto, Marrol? That's not the general impression that I have gotten.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Downtown North
on May 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Davis Grad, at a community meeting with our police department, which stemmed from a gang presence at this particular park, we learned that indeed it had become a gathering place for gang members from neighboring communities. The activity usually took place later at night. There was an increase in gang related graffiti, vandalism, and evidence of drug use. We were encouraged to notify the police if we observed any such criminal activity or people being in the park after hours.

So yes, Palo Alto can be subject to these issues like any other community in our region, including Mountain View, your place of residency I presume, which has its own set of challenges in this regard. Thank you for asking, and I hope this offers you a little insight for what is indeed a shared problem.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on May 28, 2014 at 10:34 am

The PAPD regularly patrols the Eleanor Park area at night. Neighbors also keep an eye on the park at night 'in various ways'. Daytime too.

Like this comment
Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2014 at 10:43 am's a lovely park, one that I have enjoyed for decades. How nice to welcome back an old friend. (with a face lift to boot!!)

Like this comment
Posted by Gordon
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2014 at 11:12 am

Nice to have Eleanor Pardee park open again. It is used widely during the soccer season for 8 and 9 year olds. Kinder and Kicker ages cannot use the field due to lack of public restrooms. It would have been nice to have public restrooms as a part of this upgrade. I have heard concerns that having public restrooms would attack unwanted visitors, but other parks such as Seale, Peers, Hoover and others have public restrooms without issues. The city does a great job with maintenance and overnight lockup. Next round of upgrades, lets all vote for public restrooms.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

"We're trying to find a different way to tap into people's visions for Palo Alto's parks," she said.

Congrats on the great work with the new park, but you couldn't just let the residents over by Maybell find a way to pay for the space and save the 100 established trees there in the middle of a historic drought an area that has been more heavily impacted by overdevelopment than almost any other? Such language is just another slap in the face to those of us over here who had a vision and were willing to work to pay for it ourselves, we just needed the City to exercise it's right to purchase the property temporarily.

That said, in answer to the above - our local park had problems with vandalism, etc, until it was properly renovated, and then it became so heavily used, the problem was gone overnight. So yes, this kind of renovation is a good investment in reducing crime, too.

Like this comment
Posted by amy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

A nice park which could be better with bathrooms.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm

No bathrooms. Bathrooms would bring in people that wouldn't use this park for its intended purposes. Enough said.

It is a neighborhood park, not a community or region gathering center, such as Rinconada or Mitchell Park.

Like this comment
Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Bathrooms at this park were nixed in 2008:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

It's always been know as Eleanor Park by those of us who have lived in Palo Alto more than 2 minutes.

Like this comment
Posted by Potty Time
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2014 at 10:54 am

I do not take my 3 and 6 year olds to any park that does not have a restroom. Their bladders are just too little, and they can't make it home in time.

Who are these parks for, anyway?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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