Menlo Park council opts not to pay for Flood Park
Menlo Park's loss of millions in redevelopment money is San Mateo County's gain, a fact which didn't escape the notice of the City Council on Jan. 24 while it debated Flood Park's future.
On the table was a proposal to pay the county $150,000 for one year to keep the 21-acre park on Bay Road open. The county tried to give the land to Menlo Park as a cost-saving measure, but the city hasn't been sure whether to add another set of maintenance costs to its own budget and wanted more time to consider the offer.
Options the city wants to explore, according to the staff report, include leasing up to a quarter of the park land and public-private partnerships. Entities that have expressed interest at community meetings include a private school and sports teams.
Speaking as an individual, Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs told the council that Menlo Park's taxpayers already contribute to keeping Flood Park open and that he wasn't sure the city, with an annual budget of $30 million, should bail out the county, with an annual budget of $1.7 billion.
The council agreed. While the city is still interested in Flood Park, the council voted 5-0 to withdraw the offer of $150,000.
Councilman Rich Cline described it as a matter of simple economics. "They have money and we don't."
Faced with a demand to cut 10 percent from the county's operating budget, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors last year first recommended permanently shutting down the park, which costs a minimum $205,000 annually. City staff estimated that the price tag could reach $595,000 a year, with an additional $20 million in one-time renovation costs.
The board later reversed course in June and approved enough funding to keep the park open until March. A new nonprofit, the Friends of Flood Park, is also working to save the park, and spending hours sprucing it up.