The Barron Park Association

Aug 112018

The Parks Department intends to replace the chain gate at Bol Park on Laguna near the crosswalk coming from Laguna Court with a large metal gate.  Eventually, they will replace all the chain gates including the one on Laguna near the creek and the one on Robles Ridge.

Less obtrusive alternatives like a arm gate or folding or collapsible bollards have been suggested, but we don’t think they will consider them.  Below are pictures of the proposed gate and examples of the other options mentioned.

If you have any suggestions or concerns about the city plan please contact the BPA Board and/or the Parks Department.  They are moving quickly and want to install the 1st gate by the end of August. The official announcement was published August 1st

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Nov 112013
What is going to be done: installing new 2” polyethylene gas mains and new 1” service lines to replace aging pipelines. The formal name of this capital improvement project is Gas Main Replacement Project (GMR) 19B/20/21.
Where it is going to happen:  Following map  indicates the  (blue lines on map) streets  where work will take place (click on map for enlarged view):

Pipeline repair map Barron Park 2013

LaDonna from Barron to Kendall and down Kendall to El Camino,
La Selva
Matadero from Josina to El Camino
Laguna from Laguna Oaks to Shauna Lane
Ilima Court & part of Ilima Way
San Jude
Cass Way

Contractor for the project: Daleo, will be starting work on the streets indicated on the attached map* next Tuesday November 12th.  Residents whose gas service may be impacted got a direct notice-  (*Laguna Avenue, Ilima Way, Ilima Court, and San Jude Avenue)

If you have questions about this project: contact Debra Katz (contact info below), or contact contractor directly:
Project Contractor:  Daleo, Inc. (408) 846-9621
Utilities GMR Project Engineer: An Le (650) 566-4528
Debra Katz
Utilities Communications Manager
City of Palo Alto
PO Box 10250
Palo Alto CA 94303
(650) 329-2474
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 312013

Without any public announcement, AT&Ts workers and contractors swooped through the neighborhood recently installing some of their pole-topping antennas along with the cabling and power system infrastructure. These antennas are part of AT&T’s ‘Distributed Antenna  System” (DAS), which was approved by the City Council for our part of Palo Alto in January after a long, sometimes contentious debate. This is good news for AT&T cell phone customers who (the company says) will have good service in Barron Park – or will be good news once the antennas are operational.

The antennas look like inverted wastebaskets on the top of an 8 or 10 foot post  mounted to the top of utility poles. I’ve seen two of them this week on Barron Ave- one on the 500 block and the other on the 700 block – and a third (pictured below) on the pole on Matadero just opposite the California Native Garden at the end of  Bol Park. A fourth was about to be installed on Chimalus, but the AT&T installers broke a water line near the base of the pole and the work is currently on hold pending  permanent repair by the Utilities Department.

DAS antenna and equipment mounted on pole on Matadero near Bol Park

While AT&T maintained that the antenna system was needed to improve currently poor cell reception by its customers, the debate on this specific DAS system focused on three issues:

  • aesthetics of an antenna mounted on top of a pole, and the associated equipment mounted on the side of the pole;
  • noise generated by the equipment on the pole to power the antennas and emergency back up batteries 24 hours/day;
  • microwave radiation exposure to residents who live next to an antenna, particularly in second story residences in  line of sight of an antenna.

The microwave radiation exposure issue, comparing the output and pattern of microwaves from this antenna to those from cell phone antennas on towers, is complicated and has been discussed elsewhere.  Since the antennas were not yet powered, I could not evaluate the noise.  In any event, noise would not be problem for this particular location except to some squirrels or birds nesting in nearby trees.

As to the aesthetics, it is in this writer’s opinion that the poles with the DAS antennas do not add significantly to the unsightly view of the poles themselves, with their  multiple overhead strings of power, telephone and cable lines, jumble of insulators and transformer boxes.  These antennas are not concealed or camouflaged to look like a tree, but AT&T did follow the ARB recommendations and other advice by making the equipment brown in color and so it blends in with the color of the poles themselves.  When I was a kid, utility poles were called ‘telephone poles.’  With the cell phone antennas on the top, maybe that name will come back into use.

Dec 192012

Major gas main and services replacement work next year will impact Barron Park, but not before late February. Construction on this project, which would replace existing gas mains using the “Aldyl-A” material that is no longer considered acceptable for prolonged service underground, had been scheduled for 2012, but has been delayed until early 2013.
According to Utilities Communication Manager Debra Katz, “That project has just finished the contractor selection phase (the contractor will be Daleo, Inc. and they have worked with us before and done a very good job). The next step will be a pre-construction meeting later in January and that is where it will be determined when the contractor will work where. What I can say for almost 100% certain is that no work will start anywhere before late February.

More information about this project can be found here. We will post information on our website when the details become available.