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San Carlos Highlands Park All-Weather Field Set to Re-Open..

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March 5 Grand Opening.

This Saturday March 5 marks a date that many in San Carlos thought might never happen — and for some, a date they hoped would never happen.  But after a decade of public hearings, legal wranglings, and vocal demonstrations,  the resurfacing of Highlands Park with all-weather turf is finally complete, and the new field is set to re-open with a Grand Opening Ceremony this coming Saturday March 5.   Festivities start at 10:00 AM.  For more information, download the flyer here:  Highlands Synthetic Turf Field Opening_March 5 2011

When Highlands field re-opens, it will be the only municipal park on the west coast that has a synthetic surface that utilizes an organic fill-system for cushioning, as opposed to to the tiny rubber bits that you see in the older style field, according to the supplier.   That at least make the field a bit more eco-friendly.

So come out to the field and get ready to PLAY BALL!
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Renovation in the Works for Burton Park?

burton-park-playground

Permanent Stage, Bocce Ball Court.

According to Michelle Durand’s column this morning in the Daily Journal, another upgrade to Burton Park in San Carlos could be in the works.  Plans for the construction of a permanent stage, a bocce ball court, and a much-needed upgrade to the basketball courts are in the preliminary stages of discussion.  The City Council has already given the green light to the concept — now all that’s needed is the money (isn’t that the case with everything in life?)

The San Carlos Park and Recreation Foundation quarterbacked the fundraising effort for the first wave of upgrades to Burton, which added a whole new playground structure and water park.   Look for them to play the lead role again in raising the nearly $500,000 (or more) that will be needed to make this vision a reality.    I’m sure that our local San Carlos businesses will selflessly chip in again, as they have always done in the past.

For more information, check out Michelle’s article in the DJ:  Burton Park Ready For Big Makeover.
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City of San Carlos to Settle With Citizen Group Over Artificial Turf?

Wow… I literally did a double-take yesterday when I got my daily email update from the City of San Carlos (by the way, if you aren’t subscribed to the City’s eNotify update service, you should definitely do so.  It’s a great service.)  Yesterday’s email with the agenda for the 9/13 City Council meeting had the following bullet item:

Authorize City Manager to sign a settlement agreement with Save San Carlos Parks related to the Lower Highlands Field Renovation – Synthetic Turf Project (Item # 7j)

I thought I misread it at first, but according to Michelle Durand’s article in today’s Journal, it looks as if the City of San Carlos and the citizen group Save San Carlos Parks may be close to reaching a settlement that will resolve their long-standing dispute over the conversion of Highlands Park to an all-weather surface.

Costly Settlement

Much of the settlement seems to focus on traffic mitigation around Highlands Park, since the recent Superior Court ruling found no fault with the actual installation of the turf.  But aside from the cost of traffic modifications, the terms of the proposed settlement call for  the City to pay for the legals fees incurred by the citizen’s group — which is nearly $85,000.  And this is in addition to covering the cost of their own legal representation.

This a big ouch for a city that’s already nearly broke.   But if the settlement comes to pass, it should remove the final hurdle to complete what was started over a decade ago.
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Field Renovation Set to Begin at San Carlos Highlands Park

All-Weather Turf Installation

What in essence marks the end of a decade-long battle that pitted neighbor versus neighbor in San Carlos, the Planning Department has issued permits for the removal and grading of the existing field at Highlands Park, which is the first step in the transforming the field from a natural grass field to a synthetic, all-weather surface.    According to this announcement on the City website,  the contractor has been given the notice to proceed for the removal of the existing field, and work is expected to begin within the next 10 days.

For those of you not familiar with the all-weather turf saga, the idea to resurface one or more of the athletic fields in San Carlos was tabled nearly 10 years ago as a way to accommodate the increasing usage of the limited number of athletic fields in the City.   The topic was debated fiercely for nearly a decade in City Council meetings, in the press, and even in the courtroom.  But while other cities on the Peninsula forged ahead and installed all-weather surfaces on their playing fields, San Carlos remained one of the few communities without a stitch of all-weather turf..until now.

Earlier this year the City Council, expecting a positive outcome from the anti-turf camp’s last efforts to legally block the turf, awarded a contract to replace the playing surface at Highlands Park.  So here we are.

Proceed With Caution.

As is noted in the announcement, there will be quite a few trucks and equipment in the area while the construction is in process, and the tennis courts will be inaccessible during this time.  So if you don’t need to be up at Highlands Park for the near-term, it’s probably advisable to steer clear of the area.
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San Carlos City Council Pushes Turf Through – Budget Battle Next on the Horizon.

Turf Contract Awarded.

I attended Monday night’s City Council meeting, which drew a packed house, as pro-turf and anti-turf residents squared off one last time in the Council Chambers.  As I’m sure you are aware, after nearly two hours of discussion, the Council voted 4-1 to award the contract to resurface the athletic field at Highlands Park with synthetic turf, with the start of construction delayed for another 90 days until the pending litigation to block the installation of turf is resolved.  Councilman Matt Grocott was the lone dissenting voice on the Council for this particular vote.

I sat in the front row of the spectator section and listened to Public Works Director Robert Weil’s introduction, as well each and every resident presentation.  If you haven’t taken the time to attend a City Council meeting in person, I highly recommend doing so — especially with the crucial budget discussions right around the corner.  Besides, seeing our government at work is a very interesting experience.  Some impressions I took away from the meeting:

  • Funds: Councilman Omar Ahmad, with the assistance of the City Staff, did an outstanding job of defining the different funds were being considered to fund this project.  I wasn’t clear at the outset about the differences between Measure G Funds, Park-in-Lieu Funds, and Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Endowment Funds — but after that discussion it was very clear.  Well done.
  • Public Speakers: Every person who spoke, regardless of which side they were on,  spoke eloquently and effectively on their position.   This takes a lot of guts to do in front of a packed house, a full council,  and a television audience.  I was very impressed with everyone who spoke.
  • Representation: I kept an approximate count of the number of speakers and their positions on this issue.  35 speakers total:  20 (or 57%) either wanted a delay in the decision, or were against it entirely.  15 (43%) were in favor of moving forward.   In addition, at the start of the meeting the turf poll that is currently running at the top of the site already had over 100 votes — 86% were against moving forward, and about 11% were in favor (the rest voted “don’t care.”)   Granted, both of these datapoints are highly unscientific, but for all the claims that the pro-turf contingency was the majority, these numbers tell a different story.  Yet the council still voted 4-1…  I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Next Up:  Budgets.

I stated in my previous post (and I remained convinced) I believe the turf contract approval process should have taken place at the same time the City Budget was being decided, not months in advance.   Why?  Not for the hope of using capital improvement funds for like those above to solve our operational issues.  I fully understand that those monies cannot be mixed.  But even though the funds come from different sources — it’s still money…and the Park and Rec Department just got a golden egg — an egg that should be taken into account when the City ultimately decides how and where to make their cuts to balance the budget.

I will be writing more posts as the budget battle starts to heat up in the coming months.    Believe me, if you were looking for a time to get involved in civic issues, there isn’t a better time than now.
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Are You Concerned About the Future of San Carlos Parks?

Then You Should Attend Tonight’s Meeting.

As this blog was first to break the news back in December ’09,  San Carlos City Manager Mark Weiss asked each of his department heads to propose how budget cuts of either 10% or 20% would impact their respective departments.  It was a pretty scary exercise, especially under the 20% cut scenario — the Fire Department would lose Station 16 on the Alameda, for example.  To see the original post, which includes the actual proposals from each department, click here:  San Carlos Considers Deep Cuts in Police, Fire and Park Services.

Park and Rec Showdown.

In tonight’s San Carlos Park and Rec Department meeting, will review both the 10% and 20% budget cut scenarios.   If you recall from the original post, a 20% cut will result in the closure of both Arguello and Crestview parks.  In addition, the Laureola Center would close and the Youth Center at Burton Park would only be open two months out of the year (or for money-making events.)  Also on tap for discussion tonight is the status of plans to re-surface Highlands Park with all-weather turf.     Needless to say, as far as Park and Rec Commission meetings go, this should be a lively one.   Michelle Durand wrote a great article in the Daily Journal about what’s on tap tonight:  City Weighs Massive Cuts to Park Budget.

Meeting Details.

Here are the details and the agenda for tonight’s meeeting:

CITY OF SAN CARLOS PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

February 03, 2010

REGULAR MEETING – COUNCIL CHAMBERS

CITY HALL, 600 ELM STREET, SAN CARLOS, CA

www.cityofsancarlos.org


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Harmony Yogurt pitches in (again) to help Burton Park…

harmonyCool Treat, Cooler Idea…

Harmony Yogurt is once again stepping to the plate to help San Carlos Parks.   This weekend, June 27th and 28th,  Harmony will donate $1 from every froyo they sell to the Burton Park Playground Fund.  This fund is critical to support playground maintenance and operations at the park, especially now that budgets are being drastically cut.

This isn’t the first time that Harmony has made such a generous gesture, and it’s a great example for other San Carlos businesses to follow.    Town Restaurant is another San Carlos family-owned business that is always doing fantastic things for our schools and our community too.   So be sure to drop by Harmony this weekend, and treat your park while you’re treating yourself!

Webbanner

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The Parks of San Carlos: Cedar Park

The Parks of San Carlos” is an occasional series that will highlight each of the great parks and trails that we have in here San Carlos.   My wife Patty and I (along with our dog Maggie) will be checking out each and every one of the 15 or so parks in San Carlos and bringing them alive in these pages.

This week…Cedar Park.

Cedar Park

Have you ever found that Burton Park can sometimes get be a little too crazy for you and your toddlers?  Some days during peak park hours, the playground equipment is packed with kids, and it can make for a less than relaxing experience. So if you’re looking for a quieter, out-of-the-way park with a good playground,  Cedar Park might fit the bill.

Where is it?

Cedar Park is located just inside the San Carlos/Belmont border on, of all streets, Cedar Avenue. Here’s a map for your reference:


View Larger Map

The Details…

Cedar Park is one of the smaller parks in San Carlos, as it occupies only 2/3 of an acre.   But that’s actually part of what makes it attractive.   Since it’s on the smaller side and relatively unknown, this park isn’t usually all that busy.    The playground equipment is relatively new, and is similar to what you’ll find at Burton Park…

Cedar Park Playground

Cedar Park Playground

There’s also a full-sized basketball court that looks as if it could handle a good pick-up game:

cedar-4

Cedar Park Basketball Court

Even though the park is a little “out-of-the-way,” it’s still only a few blocks from the northern stretch of downtown San Carlos. So it’s a snap to grab a sandwich at the Bullpen Deli or a coffee at Starbucks, and within a few minutes you’re enjoying a quiet lunch break outdoors.

View from the Street

Cedar Park (from the street)

Things to know before you go…

  1. There are no bathrooms at this park, so “go before you go..” :-)
  2. Dogs are OK, but must be kept out of the playground area and on a leash.
  3. Downtown San Carlos is only a few blocks away, so getting food for your picnic is a snap.

Have fun!

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