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We need our Community Center Gyms back!

Original post made by Community Center at Cubberley, College Terrace, on Feb 28, 2008

Palo Alto sports enthusiasts unite! We need to take our Community Center gymnasiums back at Cubberley. We are the only large city on the Peninsula without access to our own gyms.

The PAUSD sports programs take up the school gyms for most prime-time slots, and the City gives Foothill college first priority over renting two of the three Community gyms at Cubberley. The JCC has the other one for the next two years until their facility is complete. That leaves city taxpayers with -- no gyms to rent, for love or money!

Why are we renting out one of our most scarce resources when city leagues, with resident teams, would pay top dollar to rent them? The first answer is always quoted as money-- Foothill is willing to pay for a huge chunk of Cubberley on a mega-lease. But why does the City own property for the purpose of leasing it to other state organizations? Especially when we don't have enough of that resource to satisfy local, paying demand.

Why don't we lease out our soccer fields, or Mitchell Park, permanently? or the libraries? Because they are important to the citizens, who make sure their voices are heard.

This affects:
indoor soccer
box lacrosse
and anyone whose kids can't sign up for Foothill College classes!

We need to tell our City Management and Council that we do not want the Gyms leased to Foothill College. City taxpayers should have first priority over non-city students and friends of Foothill who want to rent our gyms.

Write your city council or city manager, and leave your comments here.

Comments (14)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 3:55 am

It is unlikely the City is going to renegotiate the future financial arrangements of the gyms with either Foothill College or the JCC at this time.

The City and Foothill College are in the middle of very delicate negotiations over the long term lease of the City's 8 acres at Cubberley. And, the JCC has a long term lease to rent Terman, that lease was transferred to Cubberley when Terman was returned to the PAUSD for a Middle School.

Right now the financing for the new Public Safety Building will depend on the approximately $1.8 Million per year of future lease payments from Foothill College.

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Paul Losch from Parks and Recreation Commission here.

I, and some other Commissioners, have been interested/concerned about the needs for more indoor playing areas in Palo Alto for some time. Without commenting specfically about the role that Cubberly plays in that equation, it would be helpful for those who are participants in indoor sports activities outside of school district based programs to provide information to the Commission about their experiences.

YOu can do that by speaking at our regular monthly meetings, or by e-mailing us or Rob deGues of City Recreation staff. I hope some of you will do so. (Check the City web site for e-mail addresses, I hesitate to post them here.)

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Posted by Gym Curious
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:56 pm


Has anybody ever made a survey of the actual number of gyms in Palo Alto, public and private? Here are some that come to mind:

Paly (2)
Buddhist Church (other churches or religious schools?)
JCC/Terman (not sure about this)
Cubberly (2)
Next to Fry's (private)

I agree that gym space is at a premium, but it would be good to know what the real physical situation is. Do you know? Does anybody else know?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Cubberly has two gyms but also a Pavilion which is used as a gym.

There is a gym at the Elk's Club, but for how much longer I do not know.

Thre is of course the YMCA which has a gym but is used for youth leagues but only of their own.

There are also Castellija, and other private schools which may or may not have gyms which could possibly be rented.

Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Pinewood school?

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Posted by Paul LOsch
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 1, 2008 at 6:06 pm

I worked with City staff to do an inventory about 18 months ago, the approach was not done to include purely private facilities, but instead those that could be considered capacity that the City Rec department could manage, so for example, the Y was off the table. Other than that analysis, I am not aware of anything that has been done of late.

A couple things I have brought up in some of my thinking about this is how about working with PAUSD to increase the gym sizes at JLS and JOrdan, assuming the bond measure passes. The facilities are going to be improved in the plan put forth, but perhaps some incremental money could be brought to bear to double the size of the gyms, money not part of the bond funding.

Another thought I have toyed with is identifying some existing property in town, most likely private, that was used for a purpose at one time, but is no longer viable in that configuration. As an example, the Middlefield gas station, next to the Ice Rink. Come up with a private/pulbic partnership to raise the capital to acquire the property and put a gym there that can be used for various groups that are in the community, managed along the lines of outdoor playing fields that are under the City's purview.

I intend to get my little Commissioner light shining on such ideas this coming year, since I no longer am Commission chair, I have more time to focus on things along these lines. I do think there are some marvelous possibilities, it calls for a bit of out of the box thinking, but not to any extreme. It would be great if we could make something like this happen in the next couple of years.

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Posted by Gym Curious
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 6:35 pm


If the survey was limited to what the "City Rec department could manage", then that would yield a limited answer. The question is: How many gyms are in this city? One could imagiane all sorts of negotiations, mutually advantageous, that would yield gym time, if the notion was not about beaurcratic hegemony.

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Posted by JW
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 1, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Paul, thank you for putting your valuable time an energy into this project.

My map of Cubberley shows 2 gyms, and the Pavilion. Two are rented by Foothill and one is part of the long term lease with the JCC. However, the JCC will be moving out in a couple of years to their own Campus at Charleston and San Antonio. These gym spaces are NOT part of Cubberley which Foothill may build on.

Also, as part of the mitigation agreement which allowed the Campus for Jewish Life to be built higher than 50 ft; their recreational facilities will be available to the City when they are not using them. This is worth looking into if you plan to do a long term assessment of available gyms in PA.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm


I like what you say about the gyms at Jordan and JLS being made bigger. I am not sure how this fits in with the PAUSD picture. However, my question is whether the MP rooms at the elementary schools could be fitted up as gyms. Already the windows are high and I believe most have wooden floors (but I may be wrong). Would it be more cost effective to get PAUSD to upgrade these MP rooms so that they could be rented out as gyms. I feel that the rental revenue may outweigh the initial costs.

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 1, 2008 at 7:36 pm

It is possible, with the right effort, to see what is possible with private gyms. The challenge with such facilities is that they may have limitations on how or how much they are used, and are more prone to fluctuations in uses by the private owners. That is not to say is should not be part of the equation, they just are more onerous from a planning standpoint, especially multi-year, if we are trying to make sure that the various community groups that require multiple facilities are getting their needs met. Even with some capacity provided by some gyms as those cited above, I think we still face a shortage.

I have to be careful what I say about the schools. I am not "officially" part of any school district entity, but I do think that the City Parks and Rec Commission has a great deal to discuss with school district officials, just as city and district staff are engaged in discussions on many things.

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Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:35 am

Most of the elementary school MP rooms were built in the 1950's. Their floors are concrete and some have linoleum tile. If there are any with wood floors, I am not aware of them. These same MP rooms also have a stage at one end and either a small kitchen or storage area at the other. Most of them are too small because as the District added more portables to the campuses to accommodate the growing student population, the MP rooms remain unchanged in scope or size. While they can be used for rainy day indoor P.E., they are in no condition or size to be used as gymnasiums.

Like this comment
Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Doesn't it seem city residents, especially youth, should always have priority for city facilities (like city and school gyms)?

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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 2, 2008 at 1:55 pm

K of Duveneck/St Francis--

Your question runs much deeper than you may realize. Both Pat Markevitch and I are on the Parks and REc Commission, and one of our priorities as a Commission this year is to come up with a policy around the way scarce playing areas--indoor and outdoor--are allocated. City policy on this right now is full of holes. And it gets very complicated very quickly, I promise.

That said, the policy we come up with begs the larger question of do we have sufficient capacity to meet the demands that exist in the community. No matter what priority process is established, there generally speaking are more organizations with legitimate "entitlement" to use Palo Alto playing areas than there is available capacity. When priorities are set, those who are lower in the pecking order still need places to play, and they are organizations that are important parts of our community.

I believe part of my responsibility as a PARC Commissioner is to find ways to accomodate the growing interest in team recreation that we find at all age groups. Merely addressing how to divide up the existing pie may be necessary, but it is not sufficient, in helping this community thrive in its recreational endeavors.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2008 at 2:25 pm

In this hightech world in which we live, it is becoming abundantly clear that exercise and recreation are not just nice things to have in a community but are at the very core of our health and welfare. Just looking at how many cars v how many bicycles are parked outside the Y shows that exercise is something that the majority of us go to do somewhere rather than use it as a norm in daily lifestyles. For this reason, the parks with their sports facilities and gyms with both exercise equipment as well as the space for indoor sports, together with pools, hiking areas, etc. are a must in any modern day community.

For these reasons, I am grateful to Paul and Pat, as well as many others, for taking on the tasks they do on behalf of us all.

Additionally, as the parent who tries to make my kids lives include exercise, not only in organized sports, but in using bikes or walking as the normal way to get from a to b, and learning that healthy outdoor play beats sitting in front of a screen of any description for a place to keep healthy and have fun, I feel that it is of paramount importance for the youth sports to get the facilities they need.

Sports, apart from the obvious exercise factor, teach many other life lessons including team work, co-operation, winning/losing, obeying the rules, respecting the opposition, respecting the discipline, respecting the equipment and also the value of volunteering for no other reason than it is a good thing to do.

As we continue to build more houses, continue to having more families move into the area, continue to have more pressures on our high school students and so on and so forth, we must increase our recreational activities accordingly. For many youth, this is what makes their lives worth living, everything else they do is because it will look good for college, is the motto they live by. Give them the facilities and the opportunities for sport, and it will last them for a lifetime. Take away their facilities and we may all live to regret it.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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