Pop-up park in Menlo Park draws mixed reviews

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Pop-up park in Menlo Park draws mixed reviews
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City officials in Menlo Park have been trying to revitalize downtown for years. Their latest project, a pop-up park, has drawn mixed reviews. But is it there to stay?

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- A mini battle is brewing on the Peninsula over a mini park. It's called a pop-up, designed and it's designed to help revitalize downtown Menlo Park. The Paseo parklet is drawing mixed reviews in one of the Bay Area's wealthiest zip codes.

Plastic chairs, pink flamingoes and artificial turf. It's not the norm in downtown Menlo Park. But for the past five weeks, it's been part of a pop-up park known as a Paseo.

"This is a place where people can just rest, sit down in the shade when it's not too sunny, but I like it," said Milpitas resident Kristal Caidoy.

But business owners along Chestnut Street say the temporary Paseo is driving customers away, which is the opposite the intent of city officials who hope it'll bring more people downtown.

"Elderly people who are having difficulty to walk far away from their car," said business owner Eva Etter. "They enjoy parking here. Now six parking spaces are taken away."

Barber David Klemish has worked downtown for 40 years.

He says his barber shop has lost 15 percent of its customers since the Paseo was installed. He's not too thrilled about the look of it either.

"Would you put a 99 Cent Store in Nordstrom's?" asked downtown business owner David Klemish. "Basically, this is a high end town, and they've got this park out here, and it's a mess."

Mayor Catherine Carlton says the Paseo is the result of a six-year economic development study that was completed before she took office. It'll be taken out next week, but could eventually become permanent.

"We have to talk to people and find out," she said. "Maybe this is the right idea, but the wrong street, maybe it should be in another area. Maybe there are aspects of it that work, but need to tweaked or changed to make it something that's viable."

City officials will conduct a survey in the coming months.