Option A would be a new "connector road" that would allow cars to drive between the two parking lots without exiting to Newell Road. The two parking lots are separated by 450 feet apart along Newell Road.
Option B would be a Pedestrian/Bicycle Path instead, in the same location (between the two parking lots).
The connector road concept drew fierce criticism from gardeners and safety advocates when preliminary designs were first presented to the Library Advisory Commission in June, as reported in this Palo Alto Weekly article: Web Link
Now the Parks and Recreation Commission has weighed in on the issue.
The commission voted to recommend that City Council choose the Pedestrian/Bicycle Path option, citing concerns about safety, cost, traffic, and loss of parking spaces associated with the proposed connector road.
Here are some of their comments from the Oct 25 meeting:
Commissioner Crommie: "On the busiest days, the connector road won't be useful... people attracted to the connector will just go into a filled up lot." "The connector comes with a lot of costs, of breaking up that beautiful pastoral space."
Commissioner Lauring: "The connector road creates a street where there doesn't need to be one... why introduce that possible safety issue?"
Commissioner Markevitch: "I don't see a use for having car access between the two [parking lots], it doesn't make sense to me. I'd like to see... just a pedestrian/bike path, I think it would be really beautiful."
Commissioner Dykwal: "I like walk-able, bike-able gathering spaces for people. If you have shared space with cars and bikes and people, the safety issue is a lot bigger. I don't see cars in that beautiful space, I think that should be pedestrians and bicyclists only."
Commissioner Hetterly: "In these fiscal times I think we ought to closely consider the costs of an investment like this."
Commissioner Walsh: "With the connector road, how many parking spaces do you lose?" (Answer: 3)
Art Center Director Karen Kienzle said that on some Thursday evenings, about once a month, she receives complaints from visitors who can't find parking in the Art Center parking lot and have to park at the Main Library (450 feet north), or along Newell Road (across the street). Thursday evenings are busiest for the Art Center because galleries, classes, and the adult studio program are all open.
Some creative solutions were offered to help reduce this inconvenience.
Commissioner Deirdre Crommie suggested there must be a way to inform motorists when the parking lot is full so they don't waste time looking for a space there. "Once a month when the Art Center lot fills up, is there any way you can just post a sign that says "Lot Full - Use [Main Library] Lot?"
City Council member Karen Holman, who is council liaison to the Parks and Rec Commission, asked if some Thursday events and classes could be shifted to other evenings such that "you're not having everything packed in on the same night".
The proposed new design of the parking lots should ease parking pressures as well - up to 50 additional spaces for are proposed (total for both lots), an increase of 35%.
Next the Library Advisory Commission will consider the issue on Oct 27 at 7:00 pm at the Downtown Library, 270 Forest Avenue.