The Barron Park Association

Jul 032016

As many residents know, the City of Palo Alto is working on a 25-year Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan for Palo Alto, including Bol Park. For each park, the city is proposing a variety of upgrades in response to today’s requirements and interests of our population, and the city has been reaching out to ask for community input and feedback on the proposals (e.g., community workshop on 2/11/16, community meeting on 5/25/16, online review at the above website, and more to come).

Overall, this is an exciting long-term development for our city, even as some of the concrete proposals for Bol Park may not fit our environment (e.g., the heritage of this park). In order to ensure organized involvement, the Board of the Barron Park Association has authorized the formation of a committee to study this issue, prepare a response, and work with the city to ensure appropriate upgrades that reflect community-wide concerns. The board appointed long-time resident and former BPA President Dick Placone as chairperson.

Dick will reach out with further information in the coming days and weeks. We are hoping for wide-spread input and participation, from long-time residents to newcomers, and from our youth to families to senior residents, reflecting the diverse community of our neighborhood using this park. We believe that we need to strive for a balance between remembering our past and providing for today’s needs. And, while Bol Park will be the focus, we believe that it may also make sense to think beyond it, in particular to Juana Briones Park and “Strawberry Hill” (the triangle area on the edge of Gunn’s property), where some of the proposed features could be implemented. Note that there is plenty of time, as even the short-term work is scheduled for around a 5-year time frame.

Further options to be involved is to provide feedback to the city online and to attend some of the community meetings. You can also sign up for emails from the city to stay involved and updated with the city’s process.

Markus Fromherz
BPA President

Nov 202014

posted by Art Liberman

The Palo Alto VA is undergoing another phase of significant building construction. In the previous phase of VA building expansion, several new medical facility structures and a parking garage were built along the Matadero Creek side of its property. This second phase is in the rear area of its property, which borders the Bol Park Bike and Pedestrian Shared Path (‘the Bike Path’). The initial projects in this latest phase of construction activity involve moving the VA’s Loop Road close to the VA property boundary (labelled number 3 on the following figure), building a new, five story Parking Garage (number 2) along that Loop Road and adding a Radiology Unit (number 1) to the main hospital building.

VA Palo Alto Campus – Phase 2 project

The projects will proceed in stages over the next several years. As indicated in the figure, future projects include a two story Research Building (number 5) that will also be close to the new rear Loop Road and likely visible from the Bike Path, and several other facilities elsewhere on the VA site (Ambulatory Care Center, number 4; Simulation Center, number 6; Recreation Therapy, number 7; and a second Fisher House hotel for veterans’ families, number 8).

While the planning for this phase of the VA expansion had been in the works for some years, the Barron Park community became aware of it only two months ago, when the VA sent out a notice about the construction project (forwarded to BPA-News), and then six weeks later when construction activity began in earnest. David Boxerman along with Richard Placone (president of the BPA at the time of annexation of Barron Park to Palo Alto in the 1970’s and the person responsible for having the railway line right-of-way donated to the City for the Bike Path) contacted the VA project managers at the end of October. These two Barron Park residents have been joined by BPA President Markus Fromherz, Art Liberman, and Khashayar “Cash” Alaee (a management analyst in City Manager Jim Keene’s office) to form a group that has held several meetings with Ronald Bochenek, Environmental Planning Manager/Facility Planner for the VA who is acting as the VA’s liaison to the community for this project (and who provided the images in this note).

Over the past few weeks, the VA contractors erected a new chain link temporary construction fence covered with fabric screening that is closer to the Bike Path than the previous fence (which was removed), and bulldozers and excavation equipment removed trees and cleared away vegetation along the VA side of the new fence. The construction fence marks the VA property line; the Bike Path and adjacent property beyond the donkey pasture and extending to Arastradero is on Stanford land leased long term to the City of Palo Alto.

The rear entry way for pedestrians and bicyclists, which had been up a steep embankment and through a gateway between the phone booth and the donkey pasture, has been closed; a new rear entry way to the VA property is now open much further along the Bike Path, near the flood retention pond and Gunn High School.

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Aug 152013

At last. At last. Our previously derelict little well site is looking fantastic with new landscaping, a pathway, and, most importantly, benches donated by the Barron Park Association and the Henshel family.

This barren looking area alongside the Matadero Well site:

Barren Area alongside Matadero Well site

has been transformed into this welcoming spot with the addition of some landscaping, pathways and benches.

Well site area with benches and landscaping

The Barron Park Association invites you to a little celebration of this accomplishment on:

Sunday, August 25, 2 p.m.
Matadero Well Site near Josina and Tippawingo

Enjoy some cookies and drinks and try out the benches, or bring your own seating. We will have a short program led by Dick Placone who succeeded in bringing this long-delayed project to fruition.

Lynnie Melena
Apr 022013

Thanks to the efforts of  long time Barron Park resident Dick Placone, who went to bat on this project with the City officials, we shall see some additional landscaping of the Matadero Well site in the near future.

Matadero Well Site Landscaping Plan

Some features of the plan:

  • The existing railroad ties will be re-set and moved inward, leaving room for a 4-foot decomposed granite path along the edge (only for part of the site because there isn’t room next to the Well Site fenced area.
  • The granite path will also circle around to the rear of the site, where two park benches purchased by the community (one by the Barron Park Association and the other by the Henshel family)  will be mounted.
  • New groundcover plantings alongside the granite path.
  • More mulch, and the existing material spread out over the area as indicated.

The rehabilitation of the Matadero Well as an emergency source of water for Palo Alto was completed some months ago. The Utilities Department planned to leave the area outside of the fenced-in area the way it was before the rehabilitation effort – which was a bleak and unattractive empty lot (this land does belong to the Utilities Department, and is not under the control of the Parks Department).

This was the situation the community faced despite the persistence of  BPA President Lynnie Melena, who spent countless hours over the past several years conferring with Utilities Department people during the course of the well rehabilitation project. As a consequence she was able to get the fence and equipment painted a pleasant green befitting a creekside location, but nothing more.  The park benches purchased by the Barron Park Association and the Henshel family were still languishing in storage, waiting for an agreement with the Utilities Department on a suitable location.

This state of affairs did not sit well with Dick Placone, a long time Barron Park resident and the former President of the Barron Park Association. Dick first went to battle with the Utilities Department and leaned on City Manager Jim Keene, who assisted him by having the Utilities Department place some plants around the fenced equipment area. These are hardy, drought resistant shrubs that in a few years, with some care during this coming dry season, will create a natural screen in front of the fence. Claire Elliott, a nearby resident who works with the environmental nonprofit Acterra, has already spent time tending to the new plantings.

This still did not satisfy Dick Placone. So he leaned a little harder on City Manager Jim Keene. The City Manager provided a modest budget for some landscaping and authorized Palo Alto’s landscape architect, Peter Jensen, to prepare the plan shown above. Nearby residents have given their OK . Soon the spot will be an attractive looking place for all the folks in the neighborhood who pass by in their cars or on their bikes, and an inviting place for pedestrians to rest and relax for a short time as they walk by.




Mar 212013

By Art Liberman

While walking along the Bol Park shared path, I have had a number of close calls with bicyclists riding at excessive speed. When I mention this to other residents, some tell me that they, too, have had similarly uncomfortable experiences. And I know of two Barron Park residents who were struck and knocked down while they were walking in the park by students who were riding their bikes carelessly.

Most bicyclists are responsible, careful and attentive. Some bicyclists call out as they approach, and others ring their bell. That’s a basic requirement, but  ‘yell or bell’  is not enough if a bicyclist is riding at high speed on a path where there are also elderly walking slowly, kids on tricycles, toddlers running over the hill from the play area, families pushing strollers to the donkey pasture, and folks walking their pets. I am a bicyclist myself, and I often ride around the neighborhood and along this path. I am aware of the hazards a fast moving bicycle poses to pedestrians; it is a disaster waiting to happen.

The solution is simple. Bicyclists must SLOW DOWN when they are near pedestrians. Bicyclists need to know that the path is to be shared with pedestrians and that they need to slow down. To reinforce that message, I am advocating that the Parks Department place the following sign (based on one that’s on a path in the Los Angeles area) at the path entrance and at a number of places along the path:

Bol Park Shared Path – SLOW DOWN- SHARE THE PATH

The Bol Park path is a ‘Shared Path,” not just a bike path. Bicyclists may not realize this and, from the sign currently at the path entrance, be under the mistaken  impression that they have exclusive rights to the path:

“Bike Path” sign at entrance to Bol Park Shared Path

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