In the latest Around Town column, Pardee Park may soon see temporary bathrooms that are "significantly nicer than a port-a-potty" and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District announces its first-ever grant recipients.
PORT-A-PARDEE ... After faltering in its initial effort to build a restroom at Eleanor Pardee Park, Palo Alto is now considering a more modest proposal for the popular park: renting and installing temporary restrooms. Under a "pilot" proposal that the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed on July 23, the city would keep modern, high-end restrooms at Pardee Park for about a year. The move is a response to neighbors who have opposed prior proposals to add permanent bathrooms at Pardee Park, citing security and cleanliness as top concerns. If approved by the council, the restrooms would be similar to those that were used during the recent construction of the Baylands Golf Links. Daren Anderson, a manager at the Community Services Department, described the temporary structure as "significantly nicer than a port-a-potty." By adding the bathroom on a pilot basis, the city is hoping to reduce opposition to a new bathroom from the park's neighbors. "If we're confronting a lot of opposition to it, it's a tool where we can say, 'See if your fears are realized. Let's put a restroom there without the enormous cost or the permanency.'" Though commissioners didn't take any formal votes at the meeting, most supported the proposal. "Bathrooms are really different now," Commissioner Anne Cribbs said. "They can be locked at night. They have particular designs that enable them to be kept clean. The old objections probably aren't as strong." That said, most commissioners continue to support building a permanent bathroom at Pardee Park. Commissioner David Moss said it's critical for residents who would like to see the added amenity to talk to neighbors and address the hyperlocal opposition. "It's really important that neighbors talk to neighbors of these bathrooms because that was probably the reason we didn't move faster two years ago," Moss said. While the city is treading cautiously at Pardee Park, it is moving more aggressively at Ramos Park, which will undergo a major renovation next year that includes new playground benches, a new drinking fountain and a resurfaced basketball court. As part of that project, the city is also adding an amenity that the City Council has consistently encouraged for local parks: a permanent restroom.
SAVING THE PLANET ... For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, the Midpeninsula Open Space Regional District awarded community grants to six Bay Area environmental organizations. The Los Altos-based district gave away a total of $250,000 in grants to support projects that line up with its mission and revolve around its open space preserves. Environmental Volunteers received $25,000 to install interpretive panels between Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto and the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in Palo Alto. The largest grant went to Vida Verde Education Center, a San Mateo County group that was awarded $50,000 to support its summer leadership camp for 30 high schoolers from under-resourced schools in the region. "We are excited for this opportunity to build deeper connections and strengthen and diversify our community partnerships," district General Manager Ana Maria Ruiz said in a press release issued Tuesday. Projects by the grant beneficiaries are expected to start next month and wrap up by September 2022.