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March 09, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Around Town Around Town (March 09, 2005)

BAAACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD ... In the next few weeks, mediators will try to bring together Brian Null and Julie Dawson, who graze their sheep in Palo Alto's Bol Park and residents of the Barron Park neighborhood who complained about the animals. Last week, the city announced it might have to enforce a city rule prohibiting such barnyard animals in city parks, due to the complaint. But if the two sides can get along, the city might agree to hold off on enforcing the rules, or could change it to give Bol Park a pass. Other residents in the neighborhood protested the city's initial decision, arguing Barron Park was a uniquely rural part of Palo Alto. "This all reminds me of something a Dickens character said: 'If the law says that then the law is an ass,'" neighbor Bob Moss wrote in an e-mail to the City Council.
MUSIC MAN ... Gil Draper, retiring proprietor of Draper's Music Center, put his story down for posterity last Sunday before the Palo Alto Historical Association. Draper, whose store was a Palo Alto fixture for 38 years, discussed the history of the store and his colorful life, including how his grandfather used to sell pickles on New York's Delancey Street. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia hung out at the store, and once purchased a guitar from Draper -- now valued at $50,000. Draper, 75, officially closed the store Saturday, March 5. At press time, he was busy "busting up the fixtures," he said. Draper's story will be aired on Palo Alto cable television, in September. Stay tuned.
STORM FRONT ... It's raining, it's pouring but is storm-drain politics boring? The Duveneck/ St. Francis Neighborhood Association hopes not, because on Thursday night, March 10, it will host a debate on the city's storm drain election , which will ask property owners to raise the fee from $4.25 a month to $10 a month. The discussion will begin at 7 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center, in the meeting room. Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson is moderating. Ballots are expected to be mailed to property owners in early April.
iCOUNCIL ... Stuck in Tahiti with no way to get home for a Palo Alto City Council meeting? No problem ... simply click to the Media Center's newly-designed Web site ( on Monday nights at 7 p.m. and watch a Web cast of Jim, Judy and all the others from the comfort of your own laptop.
BE COOL ... If you didn't catch it, this month is Arbor Month in Palo Alto, so here's one fun fact from research into the urban forest: Greenery decreases incivility between neighbors. Given that Palo Alto has an abundance of trees and civic squabbles, a Weekly reporter asked research social scientist Kathy Wolf of the University of Washington who was in town this weekend to give a talk, whether the city needs more trees. "Or perhaps people planting those trees," Wolf gamely suggested. "There have been studies of community dynamics, (showing) when people are involved in community greening, there's more community cohesion that occurs. Once you get to know people and work shoulder to shoulder ... you're less likely to take pot shots at them." Maybe it's time to hand out the shovels.
NEW PARK... On March 12 at 10 a.m., Palo Alto's Heritage Park will be officially dedicated with Mayor Jim Burch and other city officials on hand to cut the tape. It's the first new city park in more than two decades. The 2.4-acre park is located adjacent to the Roth Building, in the area bordered by Homer, Bryant and Waverley streets.

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