Around Town: Parks & Rec, parting words | News | Palo Alto Online |


Around Town: Parks & Rec, parting words


Tidbits collected by the Weekly staff on people, events and other happenings.

PARKS & REC ... From more bathrooms to pickleball courts, Palo Alto could use the can-do attitude of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" deputy director Leslie Knope to make all the improvements residents suggested they'd like to see at local parks and recreation facilities. The City released pages of suggestions recorded in the annual National Citizen Survey last week.

Many people asked for the addition of dog parks, particularly areas where their pets can run around on all fours without a leash, while some wanted to hear less barking, see more poop bag dispensers or get rid of the spots altogether. When it came to transportation, residents asked for free shuttle service either to Foothills Park, the hills or neighborhood events. Additional parks was another common request along with more trees, bike paths, affordable programs and community gardens. The community also proposed building a new performing-arts theater and history museum. Across the board, the survey indicated a need for more bathrooms at all parks, especially ones that don't have one at all. When it came to programming, residents seemed to want more of everything: year-round swim lessons, art classes, group exercise, concerts and even circus programs! (Another person wanted to see more recreational opportunities offered in the southern half of the city.) Swimmers wanted to see Rinconada Pool get expanded and stay opened longer to squeeze in another lap and more family time. A few requests were very specific, including one person who wanted to see solar public art and a parent who said the community was "desperately in need" of rhythmic gymnastics classes, which apparently are available to youth overseas, but not here in Palo Alto.

PARTING WORDS ... There were many testimonials on Wednesday for Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns and Assistant Chief Bob Beacom, who retired last month after 35 and 27 years on the beat, respectively. Among the most poignant came from Pastor Paul Bains, the department's chaplain, who described his experiences with both officers during a celebration ceremony at the Elks Club. Bains described Beacom a "man of integrity," who feeds the homeless, contributes to local nonprofits and who has "given his time, his talent and his treasure to make the community what it is today." As for Burns, Bains recalled his impact on youth both in Palo Alto and in East Palo Alto. At one youth summit in East Palo Alto, Bains said, Burns came early to set up chairs and stayed late to take them down. "And all the young people of color Latinos, Tongans, African Americans they were like, 'Who was this guy?' Because he wasn't in uniform. And he is white. And then they found out he is a police officer. And then they found out he is chief of police. ... What it did was set an impression on the East Palo Alto community about how there is another side of law enforcement - that they do care. ... This chief has made an impression upon young people who have witnessed it many times over and has made a positive effect in the lives of people of color."

AIMING HIGH ... Stanford senior Vivian Wang wants to dramatically change how smartwatches are used. As one of 15 recipients of a scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, the engineering and mathematics student will be working on how to turn smartwatches into health-monitoring devices that can track diseases like cancer. Wang said current heart-rate monitors in smartwatches give important but limited information, and there aren't measurement devices for proteins in the blood and other bodily fluids that are used as "disease markers" in the clinic. She's proposing to develop a new handheld system to monitor these biomarkers.

The grant, created at the request of the former prime minister himself, is intended to help boost science and technology efforts in the United States and United Kingdom. The award gives students the opportunity to spend a year with a master's program at the University of Cambridge in England studying science, mathematics and engineering. The 21-year-old scholar intends to obtain a master's degree in physics from Churchill College, which is part of the University of Cambridge. She also holds an impressive resume at Stanford where she was an undergraduate research assistant for an assistant professor in engineering, co-authored a study that was published in Applied Physics Letters, went through a competitive selection process to become a peer tutor in math and physics and was a teaching assistant for two introductory classes for her major. She's also an artist whose work was featured at the Bridges Conference, a juried interdisciplinary conference that connects math and art. "As both a math lover and artist, I am curious about geometry, color and symmetry," she said.


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1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2017 at 9:00 am

Yes, we all have ideas of how our parks should look. Some of these ideas are quite good and should be investigated further. Our parks should not necessarily be carbon copies of each other, particularly the "destination" parks, but neighborhood parks should definitely have facilities of equal value to users e.g. restrooms and picnic tables. I agree that there should be time each day for a park to have an off leash hour for dog owners.

I personally would like to see all children's play areas having a fence around them. This would prevent toddlers wandering off while a parent is changing a baby diaper or has another reason to take their eyes off their child for a few minutes. It would also prevent off leash dogs from getting into the play area and doing their business in the sand. It would obviously make it more difficult for someone aiming to harm or kidnap a child to get away unseen.

3 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 30, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Just more green in general. Stop building concrete and build more parks. More nature will do this community some good. Yes another community center would help also, especially since population has gone up and if you ever want to sign up for anything you have to sign up fast or else there's not room.

Like this comment
Posted by Teddie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

We appreciate the service that Bob and Dennis have given the City but you do have to wonder how much their pensions are going to costs us over the rest of their lifetimes.

If Bob started his career with the City at say 25 and he retries at 52 after 27 years service and lives to the average life expectancy of 78.8 years he will almost collect his retirement package as long as he worked. If he lives past that well he will ultimately make more money in retirement than he will for working the job.

This is why the City of Palo Alto's general budget goes more and more to cover the burden of employee retirement than to operation services. This model is unsustainable unless you continue to offer less services and or continue to raise taxes in the future. Either way it's going to get bleak for the next generation and I do hope Bob and Dennis realize the burden they and others in the cities employee are putting on all community members.

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