http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2013/10/23/galway-menlo-park-sign-friendship-pact


Almanac

News - October 23, 2013

Galway, Menlo Park sign friendship pact

by Sandy Brundage

Despite the proliferation of social media these days, not all befriending happens on Facebook. The mayor of Galway, Ireland, flew 13 hours to come here to sign a friendship agreement with Menlo Park on Thursday night, Oct. 17, during the annual "state of the city" event at the Stanford Park Hotel.

"I suppose I'm following in the footsteps of two people who left Ireland in famine times with probably no more than the clothes they wore," Mayor Padraig Conneely said, referring to Dennis Oliver and his brother-in-law, D.C. McGlynn, who came to the United States from the Menlough area in Galway, Ireland, during the 1850s and erected an arched gate here with the words "Menlo Park" on it. (When a railroad stop opened nearby in 1863, it was named after the words on the gate.)

Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki (dubbed with an honorary Irish surname "O'Taki") described the state of Menlo Park, California, as strong. Empty storefronts downtown are being replaced by businesses such as the Refuge restaurant and the LEGO store, Build It Again With Bricks. On a recent trip to the East Coast he was delighted to find that people no longer confuse Menlo Park, California, with the eponymous community near Edison, New Jersey.

The progress comes at a price, with traffic and economic vibrancy clashing with village character, Mayor Ohtaki said. "We must solve the bottleneck of El Camino Real." Compromises with the proposed Stanford-Arrillaga development will continue to be worked out, as will any revisions to the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.

The friendship agreement is a symbolic gesture indicating the two cities aspire to build a connection without committing either city to fund programs such as cultural exchanges, Mayor Ohtaki told the Almanac.

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