Years in the works, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Nov. 10 to approve landscaping plans to renovate and upgrade parts of Flood Park, a county-owned 21-acre park located at 215 Bay Road in Menlo Park.
Plans include rehabilitating the baseball and softball field, adding new multi-use sport fields in the outfield of the baseball field and on the southern side of the park, relocating tennis courts and installing a new all-abilities playground, among a number of other changes. In addition, the county proposes to create a bicycle pump track (a course of dirt berms and rollers built for BMX or mountain bikes), a demonstration garden, a basketball court, an amphitheater, volleyball courts, and renovated picnic and reservation sites.
The plan is expected to impact 72 trees but preserve all heritage trees and 92% of all trees within the park, according to a county staff report.
The plans have faced pushback from neighbors who expressed concerns about the added noise and traffic the new playing fields and renovations could bring, while many youth and families in the community, especially young athletes from North Fair Oaks, argued that they need more fields for sports like soccer and don't otherwise have reliably accessible places to play.
After a hearing last November on the proposal, county supervisors directed further revisions and research. One of the mitigations is that there is a required 100-foot buffer from park neighbors on Del Norte Avenue. In addition, park visitors will have to get a permit to use sound amplification devices, and practices times will be limited to between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Supervisors had previously set aside about $16 million for the project.
The next steps for the project will be for the county parks department to put out a request for proposals to find a design firm to develop plans in more detail. The design process is expected to include public outreach and take about a year to complete, according to staff. Then the designs would be brought to the board of supervisors, and the first phase of construction would take about 12 to 18 months to complete.
The first phase includes: rehabilitating the old ballfield and adding the new multi-use field, and building the new soccer/lacrosse field, basketball court, sand volleyball courts, pump track, walking path, tree-lined promenade and drop-off and pickup centers, and adding new utilities for water, gas and electricity. It would also include renovating an adobe restroom building.
The second phase would include building new restrooms, playgrounds, an adventure play area, an amphitheater and drop-in picnic sites and planting a demonstration garden, and the third phase would include rehabilitating the adobe administration building on-site, building group picnic areas with shade and adding exercise stations along pathways.
The park is controlled by the county, not the city of Menlo Park, and lies within the District 2 City Council area. District 2's council representative, Vice Mayor Drew Combs, told The Almanac that he felt there was a sense of excitement from district residents about the planned changes at the park. "Flood Park is a regional park and draws people from across the Peninsula," he said.
"It hasn't been given the standard and normal upkeep it should have," he added. "I'm glad there's change happening there."
In recent council discussions, Combs has pointed out that of the city's more than $40 million generated from Measure T bonds over the last 20 years, which are intended for recreational facilities, the city has only invested about $400,000 in his district. That funding was at Willow Oaks Park, which is the only other park in the district.