Church: No expansion plans in Menlo ParkThe Menlo Park Presbyterian Church says it has "no plans at this time" to develop or expand on or around its Santa Cruz Avenue campus in Menlo Park.
The church made this statement in an open letter to the community Jan. 12 in response to a news release from the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance, made up of downtown business and property owners. The alliance said the draft environmental impact report for the city's downtown specific plan is flawed because it doesn't include expansion plans by the church.
"As a resident of the street for almost 140 years, we've learned to 'never say never,' but to be clear, we do not have and we are not talking about major development plans for this campus," the church said in its open letter.
The church acknowledged that over the years, it has had exploratory conversations about "supporting a parking structure or developing our campus, but we have no plans or commitments."
Nancy Couperus, a spokesperson for the Downtown Alliance, said its members are relieved to learn of the church's decision because it reduces concerns about parking for shoppers.
She noted that the idea of a joint venture between the city and the church to build a parking structure in Plaza 3 (located north of Santa Cruz Avenue between University Drive and Crane Street) had been raised at an Oct. 4 council meeting and was recorded in a city staff report.
"With the Church backing off expansion plans that would have impacted Parking Plaza 3, the Downtown Alliance members are grateful to the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church for revealing its intentions," Ms. Couperus said in an email.
In its open letter to the community, the church noted that it has opened campuses in San Mateo and Mountain View to address space issues in Menlo Park.
A few years ago, the church invited community members to "brainstorm ideas on how the church might serve the city with its facilities," the statement said. "The ideas generated did not get past the 'dream' stage. These suggestions from members of the community, such as a local gymnasium, were simply ideas and are not being pursued."
The church said it is seeking permits from the city to create a "green play and gathering space" behind the children's building at 950 Santa Cruz Ave. The plans do not involve changes to buildings, the church said.
• Go to tinyurl.com/Church-143 to see an online story, "Alliance: City ignores church expansion."
• Go to tinyurl.com/Church-144 to see the text of the church's open letter to the community.