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Around Town: Palo Alto modifies city services as omicron wave continues

Also, Magical Bridge Foundation and East Palo Alto seek community feedback on upcoming playground

The College Terrace Library is one of three city library locations that are temporarily closed due to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Photo taken May 13, 2020 by Magali Gauthier.

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.

Nicole Smith, a Magical Bridge Kindness Ambassador, overlooks the Magical Bridge playground in Palo Alto on Jan. 19, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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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.

To register for the Jan. 27 meeting, click here. To register for the Feb. 10 meeting, click here.

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Around Town: Palo Alto modifies city services as omicron wave continues

Also, Magical Bridge Foundation and East Palo Alto seek community feedback on upcoming playground

by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Jan 23, 2022, 9:31 am

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.

To register for the Jan. 27 meeting, click here. To register for the Feb. 10 meeting, click here.

Comments

Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:12 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:12 am

Why not open the 3 closed libraries (Downtown, Children's and College Terrance) one day a week and reduce the hours at the Mitchell Park branch.

Why does the Mitchell Park always escape cuts while ALL of the others are either closed or have reduced hours??

The last time some of the reduced hours were restored, Rinconada got back an extra 2 HOURS a week and people had to fight hard for ANY evening hours which have AGAIN been eliminated.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:40 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:40 am

Other countries are reducing their precautions. Even masking mandates are being taken down. Here we are now expected to go backwards in our cautionary measures and cloth masks are supposed to be upgraded to expensive surgical standard masks.

This situation needs to end for the sake of sanity and mental health reasons. Covid won't go away and we cannot spend the rest of our lives afraid to meet in a group setting with anyone. Have in person meetings, open libraries, make masks optional, stop living in fear.


Jane
Registered user
Ventura
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:47 pm
Jane, Ventura
Registered user
on Jan 23, 2022 at 11:47 pm

Life is not safe and getting together has always entailed a risk of some kind of contagion. These closures are not an abundance of caution or a "spirit of safety," they are germ- and liability- phobic with a flavor of political flag waving.

Either open up or give us a refund of our taxes for city services not rendered.


Seer
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 25, 2022 at 9:19 am
Seer, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2022 at 9:19 am

I think you can just replicate the existing Magical Bridge Playground, it seems fantastic.


Seer
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 25, 2022 at 9:33 am
Seer, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2022 at 9:33 am

As far as Omicron. It's already in significant decline locally (you can only tell from measuring sewage, our county statistics are mixed with San Jose which is completely misleading for what is happening in Palo Alto). The city "reaction" is too late and ineffectual.

I caught my Omicron as a boosted older person (up there at the border of concerning age). It was ... a cold with more headache and ache the first couple of days, but LESS congestion and absolutely no lung. I rested more than I felt I had to out of caution but wasn't "down". O2 was 98%, no fever. I was back to 20 mile bike rides 2 days after recovery (day 7) and I only gave myself those 2 extra days out of an abundance of caution. No long or short-haul syndromes, I continued to work from home the whole time, stoopid as I've always been. Your mileage may vary, but that version of the "Wuhan flu" was not worth closing anything down for.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 25, 2022 at 3:03 pm
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2022 at 3:03 pm

There has been a huge amount of COVID related news here at the weekly lately due to Omicron. Everything from the City Council going back to online meetings, a reported explosion of cases, schools asking for parent volunteers due to staff illness, and here the City Hall and the Public Library have modified services. It’s been a painful time and everyone wants to go back to normal. Looking at the projection models, this phase ends in March. It may even end earlier, say Mid-February, regionally in the Bay Area. Everyone hang in there and stay safe for another 4 weeks or so as we come down off of this peak of Omicron cases. As of now though, with all of the disruption to services, I guess the COVID emergency wasn’t over after all.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 25, 2022 at 4:48 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2022 at 4:48 pm

" Everyone hang in there and stay safe for another 4 weeks or so as we come down off of this peak of Omicron cases. As of now though, with all of the disruption to services, I guess the COVID emergency wasn’t over after all."

Please tell that to all the anti-vaxxers who've invaded Diana Diamond's blog.

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