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Parks commission pitches a new project: A city gym

Original post made on Nov 28, 2021

Eager to give Palo Alto residents a new space to compete, exercise and socialize, the Parks and Recreation Commission is leading the charge on a public gym, which has an estimated price tag of about $25 million.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, November 28, 2021, 8:06 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 28, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

I'm confused. There's a full gym at Cubberley (for some reason called the "Pavilion") that the city has leased for the last 30 years from the school district; the district doesn't use it or control it in any way, and apparently has no plans to. Isn't that the "public gym"? Is there something wrong with it?

Here's the image I found from the City website - it looks like a pretty standard high school gym - Web Link

Posted by Donya
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Donya is a registered user.

Great idea. But how about an indoors swimming pool or pools? I visited a relative in Neuchâtel in Switzerland and accompanied her to their local indoor swimming pool. It was gorgeous and clean and affordable. We could use one of those facilities here. I know that we have the pool at the Rinconoda park but it is overcrowded and not fun to go into during the cold months.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

The sad thing is that we have plenty of facilities in Palo Alto, but not enough things for teens or young people to do on an ad hoc basis. Now that the evenings are dark and the parks are unavailable for playing catch, frisbee, or basketball there is so little for a group of people with lots of energy to do without signing up for a team or a class.

What we have very little of is places to go on a holiday weekend, on days without school, or when extended family are visiting and want to have an activity that doesn't involve screens. We no longer have a bowling alley and many of the local activities that were enjoyed a decade ago such as lazerquest and crazy golf are no longer in existence.

If we have this gym, will it provide more activities for local kids and young people or will it be just organized teams and classes?

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2021 at 6:12 pm

felix is a registered user.

Ventura area would be great for a gym adults could use if space could be found. It’s fairly centrally located for all and ups the services to the most underserved neighborhood in town.

It would be folly to put it easy of 101 where no one lives, or in N. Palo Alto which is top heavy in services compared to S. PA where more people live.

And throw in a public pool for S. Palo Altans where adults can exercise and kids can have fun.

Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2021 at 6:35 pm

S. Underwood is a registered user.

Interesting idea. I do wonder why I read story after story about Community Service / Parks & Rec with exactly 0.00 input from the department management OR the City Managers Office. Are our paid managers completely absent? If so, let's just hand the reins over the commission ... they seem to do all the work for literally 0% of the money.

I would really like to hear what a professional in this field says... if we have any.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 28, 2021 at 10:31 pm

eileen is a registered user.

Is this a free gym? Why should the city taxpayers spend 25 million on a gym you have to pay for? There are tons of private gyms around. How about creating a beautiful, free park where people can sit and enjoy trees, maybe a small pond, and nature? A big no on a gym!

Posted by BobH
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2021 at 11:15 am

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My initial reaction is No, this is not needed. There are many other gyms available in Palo Alto.

Assuming there is $25M available to spend, wouldn't it be better spent on low income housing or putting the train tracks underground?

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2021 at 11:17 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

OH, for heavens sake.

The present gym at Cubberley is on the PAUSD-owned portion of the campus which PAUSD has just announced they are about to reclaim. The commission wants to look beyond underused Cubberley for a place where they "can be pretty confident about the land"? Really? The city OWNS the entire north end of Cubberley campus. There is no reason for lack of confidence or uncertainty about how it might be used. The city owns it. They get to decide. There's room for a gym there. It's time to replace the dilapidated buildings and get community services back at Cubberley. Provide services where they are needed. Fix the leaking roofs and cracked slabs, get rid of the asbestos floors, replace the broken utilities and single pane windows with rotting sills, create a community service space that works. We need it. We are going to need it more as more high density housing is being built in Palo Alto and specifically in areas near Cubberley.

Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2021 at 11:21 am

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Menlo Park has a very nice gym, so there is precedent, although I believe a large part of the cost was donated by one individual. Any new facility should have an indoor pool. I personally do not wish to use a private gym.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2021 at 11:40 am

eileen is a registered user.

TorreyaMan, If we do build a new gym it should definitely have a pool and spa area.
When I lived in Germany years ago, every city, town, or village had a proper sports facility a pool, lockers, modern facilities, outdoor green space, and a gym for team sports.

Please do not build a sports facility that can only be teams. We need a place that will be open for the residents and families living here in Palo Alto. I don't have a problem paying an entrance fee, as they do in other places. I don't want this new gym taken over by sports teams as they do all our public parks! Not everyone in this town joins sports teams!

Posted by Barron Park Denizen
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 29, 2021 at 11:55 am

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To echo Eileen and BobH, we already have private gyms. Even if space for a building could be found, why should substantial taxpayer funds be expended to compete unfairly with private business owners risking their personal capital? There is a continuing impression that Palo Alto, supplemented by its golden goose Utilities Department, has bottomless pockets, available for any nice-sounding cause. Yet there are huge public debts that need to be addressed right now, including City pensions and four railroad crossings. Add that all up, and it far exceeds a BILLION dollars even with substantial governmental assistance. And all this debt burden rests atop a population of only 67,000. Tax businesses? Try to catch Palantir, HP, and Tesla. Tax commuters? Their offices will move out of town, or employees will just work from home.

Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 29, 2021 at 12:04 pm

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An indoor recreation facility -- especially one with a pool -- would be a great addition to South Palo Alto. Financing is tricky, but the need is there. Riconada and Lucie Stern (where some exercise classes are held) are hopelessly overcrowded, particularly since the pool at Riconada is taken over much of the time the Palo Alto swim team, masters' programs, and swim meets.

Posted by Fr0hickey
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2021 at 12:30 pm

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I don't see a reason to have Palo Alto tax payers foot the bill for something that private companies already compete in business for. There is a 24Hour Fitness in Mountain View.

Posted by Jim Hols.....
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 29, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Jim Hols..... is a registered user.

25 mil for a facility based on a commisioners desire. Meanwhile we have one small dog only space in Peers park. 2 chairs for the entire park and no cover or even an umbrella for the summer. Can we just spend thousands to fix woefully maintained spaces rather than 25M ? Dog parks in Palo Alto are the worst. They are important to non dog owners as the dogs have a place to play rather than pooping in the playing fields

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 29, 2021 at 4:29 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Yes, let's put the money into the Animal Shelter and the dog parks. Not having more chairs and an umbrella at Peers Park is absurd.

At Mitchell Park, dog owners -- not the City -- have supplied the chairs and umbrellas for at least a decade. When we've wanted to dedicate a memorial bench, the city charged us $15,000 per bench. And that was years ago so that fee is surely more now.

As for the Animal Shelter, please bring back low-cost spay and neuter service and decent hours!

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 29, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Rose is a registered user.

We should definitely build a new gym and an indoor swimming pool. It should be in Ventura or Barron Park where there are no facilities for Palo Altans who live in the south part of town. Either of these two neighborhoods also would be very bike accessible -- thereby encouraging more exercise and less auto pollution adding to climate disasters.

Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2021 at 8:25 pm

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As a parent of a dog and a few humans, I would vote for amenities for humans, and not dogs.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 29, 2021 at 8:48 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Humans would be the ones sitting in the chairs so I quite agree. :->

Posted by New PaloAltan
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 30, 2021 at 3:38 pm

New PaloAltan is a registered user.

With new COVID variants still erupting, and with the recent whisperings from WHO that COVID is now endemic (meaning, will always be with us), I doubt people will be able to safely swim in the same pool unless everyone gets vaccinated. When polio was still a pandemic, swimming pools were one of the worst vectors of disease. Children weren't swimming in public pools because children were the primary targets of polio. Now that we have a pandemic that doesn't discriminate against age, race, creed, color, or any nationality, we could be spending 25 million dollars in educating the local unvaccinated about the science behind vaccination. But yeah, let's build a pool. Let's name it "Super Spreader Swim Club". I'm all for the chairs at the dog park. I don't have a dog but I'd support that before supporting building a gym facility where everyone will breathe and sweat all over each other without even thinking about COVID.

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2021 at 5:24 pm

tmp is a registered user.

This is why the city needs to commit to acquiring the Fry's site and turning it into a community park/recreation facility. It is the right area and the city is WAY behind in providing the park space that it calls for in the Palo Alto Comprehensive plan for the thousands and thousands of additional people we have been adding with the overpopulation boom in this area.

This is a large area, is planned to be redeveloped and should go to help the residents of Palo Alto. Do not let the city rezone it to increase the value and help the current developers that own it. Rather keep it zoned as is and then once acquired change it to park space for the community.

Posted by RitaLancefield
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 30, 2021 at 7:19 pm

RitaLancefield is a registered user.

I question the wisdom of spending money and land on a gym when we cannot find money and land for low to moderate income housing. It is unconscionable that we do not make a full faith attempt to house the people who work in our city, but can talk of building a city gym.

Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2021 at 3:01 pm

Marie is a registered user.

There are no shortage of gyms in Palo Alto. We desperately need a new animal shelter and low income housing. If this gym was going to be available to all, I might consider supporting it. But if their model is the rebuilt Junior Museum, I am against it. That means cost of running it will be covered by charges to whoever joins the gym, not necessarily even residents of Palo Alto. And if the funding model is similar ($10 per head for the Junior Museum), it will not be affordable to anyone but a millionaire. But that seems to be the demographic the current city administration wants to satisfy. Forget us regular middle class folks and don't even consider low income people. Like the Palo Alto Airport and the Golf course, you are only welcome if you are amongst the wealthy.

Posted by Larry Klein
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 3, 2021 at 10:21 am

Larry Klein is a registered user.

Maybe the PACC could consider a joint venture with the YMCA and share the development & operating costs? That said, perhaps the time is not right to be conceptualizing this project as the coronavirus is still quite active & any subsequent public health mandates could trigger an indefinite closure.

Lastly, if Palo Alto has a surplus $25M to spend/waste on a city-exclusive fitness center it must not be hurting for money. And what about non-residents and out-of-towners also wishing to partake in its Pelotron splendor? Will an exclusive Palo Alto 'residents only' gym become another Foothills Park debacle?

Posted by Ofcourse!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 3, 2021 at 11:31 pm

Ofcourse! is a registered user.

Non-residents already use the Cubberley gyms. Palo Alto lets non-residents swim in their pools and neighboring cities let Palo Alto residents swim in their pools. So parallels to Foothills Park are either incredibly ignorant or intentionally inflammatory.

The proposal is for an old-fashioned basketball/volleyball gym, perhaps with a yoga room. The proposal didn't mention anything remotely close to "Pelotron (sic) splendor".

Remarks about the City wasting money are also inaccurate. The article states that a gym is not on the City's infrastructure list, so the plans are for a privately-funded gym.

Please, more facts and less provocative snark.

Posted by Marie
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2021 at 11:57 am

Marie is a registered user.

The highest cost of any development in Palo Alto is land. If the city allocates any of its rarest resource to a facility that will be run primarily for its wealthiest residents, it will be a real shame. Please use our scarcest resource for a new animal shelter, parks (very much needed as our population goes up) and most of all for very low and low income housing. Without the cost of land, and with some suspension of fees (does low income housing really need to contribute to public art?), I believe permanent (not financed with government tax credits that allow the conversion of the property to market rate in 30-50 years) low income housing could be financed by the rents anticipated, especially if some workforce housing is allowed (only enough to pencil out).

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2021 at 7:02 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I agree that land in Palo Alto is valuable and important.
I’m interested in:
a new animal shelter building at existing site; optimized use of central Cubberley site with services for all residents;
no interest whatsoever in any dog park addition.
I agree teams shouldn’t be allowed to dominate everything; individual residents also need and wish to “recreate” (if that’s a verb)

Posted by Fritzie Blue
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 7, 2021 at 11:05 am

Fritzie Blue is a registered user.

This is almost like one of those April fools stories printed here each April 1st. Count me in with those supporting a new animal shelter. That clearly should be the priority over an unnecessary gym.

Posted by J Schwartz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2021 at 10:31 am

J Schwartz is a registered user.

With so many recreational public and private opportunities available in Palo Alto, I would rather see that money and land be used to support housing that is accessible and available to the city public servants (teachers, firefighters, police, utility, etc.) and low wage workers our community depends upon.

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