In the latest column, news about city service changes due to the recent COVID-19 surge and upcoming meetings for a new Magical Bridge Playground in East Palo Alto.
ABUDANCE OF CAUTION ... The current wave of COVID-19 cases brought by the omicron variant has forced the city of Palo Alto to adjust its services in an effort to reduce the spread. After gathering in person to pick its new mayor and vice mayor on Jan. 3, the City Council reverted to virtual-only meetings for the rest of this month.
Walk-up services at City Hall also have been limited, and anyone who is seeking in-person assistance can expect long wait times. The city's Development Center, where the public can find help with matters such as building permits or inspections, has also gone down the remote meeting route. It anticipates switching back to in-person services next month.
The Palo Alto City Library implemented several changes on Jan. 18, notably the temporary closures of the Children's, College Terrace and Downtown libraries and reduced hours at the Rinconada Library, which is now operating on Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.
The spirit of safety also rings true at the Palo Alto Art Center, where the Children's Fine Art Department has pushed back the start of winter classes to Feb. 4. Refunds or makeup classes will be made available after that date. Enrolled students can expect the center to contact them with detailed information on their specific class.
MAGICAL BEGINNINGS ... The Magical Bridge Foundation, the nonprofit behind local playgrounds for people of all abilities, is getting the ball rolling on a new recreational space in East Palo Alto.
The organization is holding a series of virtual community engagement meetings for the public to provide input on the 7-acre space at Bell Street Park. Two upcoming meetings are scheduled on Jan. 27 and Feb. 10, which are both Thursdays, at 5:30 p.m.
To assist in making the project a reality, the foundation announced a public-private partnership with the city of East Palo Alto for a "comprehensive outreach program" that involves discussions with residents and other stakeholders. The Bell Street Park location neighbors the Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto Family YMCA and East Palo Alto Senior Center.
"All residents of East Palo Alto deserve a safe place to be active, come together, and engage in play of all types," Mayor Ruben Abrica said in a statement. "The City looks forward to working with the community and the Magical Bridge Foundation to redesign Bell Street Park into a more inclusive and active space for generations to come."
The foundation's first Magical Bridge Playground opened at Palo Alto's Mitchell Park in 2015 and another at Redwood City's Red Morton Community Park last year. Additional playgrounds are planned in Mountain View, Morgan Hill, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. RSVPs required for the Jan. 27 and Feb. 10 meetings, which will be conducted in English and Spanish.