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Atherton OKs Little League ballpark plan on 3-2 vote

Original post made on Jan 22, 2014

It took four years, but the Menlo-Atherton Little League has finally won permission to build new facilities on the baseball field in the town-owned Holbrook-Palmer Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 16, 2014, 9:22 AM

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Posted by Walter Sleeth
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm

In the fall of 2012 our community voted to “Save Our Park” by aborting well thought out plans for a library, which might have benefited all Atherton citizens. Now, a small group of highly organized individuals from both Atherton and Menlo Park have convinced three of our council members to vote for very large permanent covered concrete bleachers in the Park for the seasonal use of a small group of grade school Little League players many of whom aren’t Atherton residents. The new concrete bleachers would hold up to 200 spectators.

It is ironic that the Burgess Park Field in Menlo Park has uncovered non-permanent metal bleachers totaling about 50 running feet, five rails high and accommodating no more than 150 spectators at the ‘20 inch per bottom rule’ presumably used by the Atherton Council.

I played baseball as a boy and I like the Little League, but I think concrete bleachers displacing green areas of the Park are not what this community was hoping for when they voted to Save Our Park in 2012. I agree with our residents desire to give the Little League a better field here in Atherton, but is this the way we want it done?

Alternative suggestions were made for non-permanent metal bleachers and scoreboards at less cost to the Little League, but the Little League refused this. (When Councilman Widmer, after being told by the Little League that there were no removable scoreboards, researched such a product and found that it could be purchased, the Little league officials and the 3 council members voting for the concrete bleachers turned a deaf ear to him.) Other modifications suggested by the Town Planning Committee have been completely ignored by the Town Council.

It appeared that at least one if not several Council members, voting for the permanent bleachers, relied on a biased and unduly narrow interpretation of the so-called case law concerning what should be relied on in considering the scope of a ballot measure. Many voters had assumed the Planning Committee would be able to do its job and recommend that the bleachers be sized for the historic park–like setting we have. Many of the residents, who voted yes on Measure M, as I did, would have voted “No”, if it had been understood that our vote would be interpreted to saddle the Town with a concrete 200 seat, covered bleacher. This action by a 3-2 majority of the Council ignored reasonable voices asking that second thoughts be given so as to reduce the size of the structure and to make sure ‘out-lying ‘ structures, i.e. fences, foul poles and scoreboard could be removed in the off season. These structures are likely to become safety hazards. There was an unnecessary rush to judgment.

If you want to Save Our Park, now is the time to make your wishes known. Please email all of our Councilpersons your concerns.

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Posted by Confused
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 22, 2014 at 10:55 pm

I'm not seeing the consistency here. It seems the same group that pilloried Kathy McKeithen, Jim Dobbie, and Bill Widmer for advocating a library in the park, because residents spoke clearly that they wanted to preserve the open space, now votes for a little league facility that goes way beyond what is needed to play little league? I don't get it.

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