Around Town | September 14, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 14, 2012

Around Town

TAKE THE TESLA BRIDGE TO THE PACKARD PLAYGROUND ... Palo Alto's wish list for recreational amenities seems to grow every month or so, with current items including a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101, a universally accessible playground at Mitchell Park, three playing fields at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and a host of trails and bike boulevards. The main wildcard is the cost. To deal with the hefty price tags of the coveted projects, officials are debating whether they should offer naming rights to companies that are willing to help turn the city's recreational dreams into reality. The idea surfaced this week, during the City Council's joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Commission, and received a mixed reception from council members. Councilwoman Karen Holman said she is "all for leveraging money" from the private sector, but was skeptical about the naming-rights proposal. "It doesn't fit the complexion of the community to have, say, AT&T Bridge over 101," Holman said. Her colleague Sid Espinosa was more open to the idea and recommended a "thoughtful discussion" about how much is too much when it comes to naming public facilities after donors. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, meanwhile, was enthusiastic and said he would have "absolutely no problem" with attaching company names to the city-owned structures. "I would have no trouble with the 'Palantir Bridge' over 101," Scharff said, referring to the downtown company that specializes in data analysis. "Palo Alto is intimately connected with the innovative companies we have here." Councilman Larry Klein noted that the city's existing policy allows the council to name things after people but not after companies. He also argued that getting companies to pay for naming rights would be a tall task, particularly in a tough economic climate. The ongoing campaign to raise money for the city's new Mitchell Park library, for example, so far has secured only one donation sizeable enough to get a significant portion of the library named after the donor, philanthropist Becky Morgan, Klein said.

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