The Barron Park Association

Jun 112015
 

Please join us for the

BPA Community Happy Hour

Every month

on the third Tuesday, 5-6pm

at Cibo (bar area)

 

The BPA Community Happy Hour is an informal gathering for Barron Park residents
to meet neighbors, discuss current affairs and new ideas, and meet BPA Board members.

All that in an informal setting –
and the BPA will buy your first drink.

There is no need to RSVP, but do put it on your calendar:
every third Tuesday of the month!

The Board of the Barron Park Association

 

PS: We would like to thank Cibo for accommodating us for this monthly event. Very rarely, we may have to move or cancel the event due to a conflict at Cibo. We will send out a notice to the BPA-News mailing list if that is the case.

Jun 022015
 

(This is an updated version of my Spring 2015 BPA Newsletter column.)

In February, Palo Alto Online published an article about the College Terrace neighborhood association that rang familiar: an organization that has been around for about four decades and which played an important role for many residents over the years has difficulty attracting new blood to its board and may be at risk of folding. As BPA newsletter readers know, the lack of new volunteers is something the BPA board has been grappling with as well over recent years.

Why is it so difficult to find more volunteers to organize events, watch out for neighborhood safety, interact with the city and developers, or publish the BPA newsletter? As our survey last year showed, it is not that residents don’t care about these issues. Quite the opposite is true: throngs of people come together for the May Fete and Movie in the Park, concerned residents attend city council meetings, and the newsletter consistently gets very high marks. The Barron Park community clearly values what the BPA has to offer. More than that, and more broadly, community gatherings, activism, and communication demonstrably lead to a more enjoyable, livable, and resilient community.

So why aren’t more folks stepping up to contribute? In the past, people joined the BPA board mainly for one of two reasons: either to simply contribute to the community they live in, or to get the BPA behind a specific cause they cared about (e.g., CPI). One obvious answer why there are fewer of the former is that people have less time to volunteer, both because more people work (and work longer hours) and because there are many more competing activities to choose from than decades ago. The latter — activists — still exist, but it’s easier than ever to voice your opinion or rally people using online tools and social media. While the BPA may provide more weight to an opinion, it also takes longer to act and has to be more considerate by its very nature (serving a large and diverse membership).

You may think of other reasons why fewer people make themselves available to the community. The effect is the same, though: most current board members have been in their roles for a long time, and new members are hard to recruit. As a result, several important committee chairs are vacant. Rather than just lament this situation, though, the board has been active to work out a “Plan B”: considering the outsourcing of some of its activities. For example, the fact that events bring neighbors together and thus lead to a vibrant and resilient community is not necessarily diminished by having events organized by professional event planners. While most of us would prefer to have volunteers from the neighborhood organize our events, it is more important to continue those events than to insist on free labor. This has in fact happened to the May Fete: our marquee event has become just too much for a volunteer group to organize, but by all accounts paying a professional to plan and run it for the last few years has done nothing to decrease its popularity. So that is what we are considering for other offerings from the BPA. We have some creative ideas, and I think some may change the BPA for the better. We’ll do it carefully, and certainly not for everything. We’ll also have to look at the financial impact, and perhaps we’ll have to raise membership dues (which haven’t changed in many years). None of this is decided yet, but this is the time to think about it. We are fortunate to have a solid organization with a strong history, which provides a good foundation for its next phase. (Since I first wrote this, a few people have stepped forward to volunteer and even join the BPA board. We still need more help in some of the departments. Check board meeting announcements for vacant chairs, or contact us with your interests. Even better: join us at a BPA Community Happy Hour!)

We’d like to hear your opinion on this issue. Send me an email to president at BPA palo alto dot org or post a comment here. We know that the BPA is a valued institution for many, but we can’t stand still if we want to remain relevant.

Jun 022015
 

The next bi monthly senior lunch will be a picnic in Bol Park with Driftwood Deli delivering box lunches consisting of a sandwich, chips, fruit, cookies and a soft drink, all for only $10. We are able to order ahead of time with our choice of the sandwich and drink.

The time is 1:00 pm. Bring your own chair or let us know if you need someone to bring one for you.

We always enjoy the casual atmosphere in the park and, of course, the camaraderie as we get to know each other better.

If you are interested in joining us, please email Julie Spengler at juliespengler@sbcglobal.net or phone 493-9151 by Friday June 5th so we can make a name tag for you and place your order.

Hope to see many of you there.

May 242015
 

This thank you is going out to all the volunteers who helped make this years May Fete a huge success!  We had one of the largest number of people in attendance in recent history, the weather cooperated, albeit a little windy, the BBQ was busier than ever and the raffle netted more than ever before.  The cotton candy machine was a popular addition and the bounce house was a hit with the kids.

I would like to directly thank the following people for their wonderful efforts:

  • Sarah Van Zanten- Event Coordinator and Family and Friends who handled obtaining the crafts and games, the food and soda, the raffle and tickets.
  • Larry Breed and crew who bought the ribbons, cut them and re-spooled them, assembled the May Pole, attached the ribbons and the floral basket and directed the setting up of the pole, put the floral basket up, and disassembled the May Pole, long after most people were gone.
  • Gary Breitbard who organized the music and the Morris dancers
  • Rich Elder-  stage construction
  • Alan Winston- dance caller
  • Hassan at Barron Park Florist & Market- provided the flowers and assembled the Flower Basket for free!
  • Doug Graham- Barron Park History Display
  • BPA Board member Lisa Landers-Membership Table
  • BPA Board member  Peter Mueller- Membership Table
  • Boy Scout Troop 14 – There were 3 scouts there from 9:00am to 5:00pm to assist throughout the event. They helped with the cotton candy machine, running the activities, the food booth and taking down the tables and chairs. They were there to fund raise for a trip to Japan for the World Scout Jamboree this July.
  • BBQ- John King, Karen Saxena and Gene Iwamoto

…..and of course the Donkeys and their Handlers

Ad Sponsors

Gwen Luce, Coldwell Banker Real Estate
John W. King, Keller Williams Realty
Ernies Wines and Liquors
Jim Davis Automotive
Ace of Sandwiches
Celias Restaurant

In Kind Donations

Copy Factory
Barron Park Florist

Lets see everyone next year!

John W. King
Volunteer Coordinator
Barron Park May Fete coordinator

May 052015
 

JOIN US FOR MAY FETE 2015!
SUNDAY, MAY 17TH AT BOL PARK FROM NOON TO 4 PM

Come and enjoy live musicians and dancers. They will perform all afternoon, with a Maypole dance at 2:30. Bring the family and a blanket and make a picnic of it. Hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza will also be for sale. Wear ribbons. There will also be games and crafts for the children, donkeys and donkey art, and the history exhibit. Activities will include face painting for children, donkey parade and more! Suggestions for other activities from the Barron Park community are welcome.

The May Fete is a volunteer effort. If you’d like to help and volunteer, or if you’d like to propose a display or activity, contact the event organizer John King at johnwadeking@gmail.com or the event planner Sarah Van Zanten at bpmayfete@gmail.com, the event email address. Look forward to seeing you there!

Apr 042015
 

There will be a Senior Lunch on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 1:00 PM at the Corner Bakery. It is located at 3375 El Camino Real at the corner of Fernando where the Boston Market used to be, with plenty of parking either in front or behind the restaurant.

The Corner Bakery is cafeteria style so you will each pay for your own selection at the counter, and they will deliver your order to the table when it is ready. The prices are modest and there are no tips involved. You can look at the menu in advance by going to wwwcornerbakerycafe.com.

If you are interested in joining us, please email Julie Spengler at juliespengler at sbcglobal.net or call at 493-9151 so we can make a name tag for you. Changes in plans can be made up until 10:AM Tuesday be calling
Rosemary Jacobsen at 493-9151.

Looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Mar 312015
 

BPA Members are part of an influential community that interacts with local residents and city officials to enhance the Barron Park community. Members of BPA receive quarterly newsletters, access to baby sitting/job posts in addition to the many other resources offered by BPA.

Membership dues support popular Barron Park activities such as Email lists, neighborhood social/cultural events, BPA Newsletters, Emergency Preparedness, BPA website and the annual May Fete. We appreciate your timely renewal, as dues received by April 30th enable BPA planning for upcoming activities.

How to join:

  • A membership form is in the center of the Spring newsletter and can be mailed in
  • Membership can be processed on our website

Please note the many volunteer positions listed on the BPA membership form.  The more participation BPA receives, the better we can meet the needs of our community.

Jan 312015
 

Our bi monthly senior lunch will be on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, at 1:00 pm at Da Sichuan Chinese restaurant, located at 3781 El Camino Real, with easy access to the parking lot at the back entrance by turning off El Camino at Curtner and making an immediate left into the lot.

The cost for lunch will be $15, including tax and tip, and features 8 different dishes.

We need to make reservations by Friday, Feb. 6th, so let us know as soon as you can if you are interested in joining us by either calling me (Julie) at 493-9151 or emailing me at juliespengler@sbcglobal.net.

We look forward to having a great group of seniors, as usual.

Dec 292014
 

posted by Markus Fromherz

Over the summer of 2014 the BPA ran a survey of the Barron Park neighborhood about interests and priorities in the community. We got a wonderful response. 172 people filled out the survey. The number does not describe the amount of write-in comments, though. Before I get into details, I’d like to draw attention to the informal gathering we have planned for January 7, 5-6pm, to discuss two of the top interests. Please see our email on BPA-News and RSVP if you’d like to help and contribute to the BPA.

In this post, I’d like to summarize the survey responses and comments. Full details can be found here.

First, there is strong support for the BPA’s activities. A great majority of the respondents find the annual meeting, May Fete, and casual/cultural gatherings important. There are good ideas on how to improve some of them and what other events to organize. For example, how about a teen event? There is also near-universal support for and interest in the newsletter, website, and email lists. The responses on general activities and interests were more differentiated and will help us understand where to put our energy and look for help. Emergency preparedness scores very high, while the ratings of the other interests (e.g., babysitter list, senior activities) reflect the local demographics.

We asked about a number of safety, livability, and environmental concerns. All safety issues rate high, with the relative exception of crime. Some people would like to see more sidewalks, others fewer bumps on their roads. There is strong support for cycling, but it is recognized that there are a good number of unsafe drivers and unsafe cyclers in the neighborhood. All livability concerns score high, especially (and not surprisingly) housing density, building codes, Barron Park’s rural character, and traffic. However, respondents have diverse ideas about how to address these concerns. On shuttles: “I want to see much more public transit and shuttles.” / “Keep shuttles out.” On sidewalks: The desire for more sidewalks comes up repeatedly, but others want to keep the streets unchanged. On CPI: “I really value that we can speak as one voice through the BPA on the CPI site issues.” / “The BPA has been noticeably absent in helping Chimalus Drive residents.” (Notice that several BPA board members and residents have provided detailed evaluations and recommendations that have clearly influenced city staff dealing with the issue. Some respondents seemed unaware of such valuable contributions.)

People are also divided on the role of the Barron Park Association in these matters. Some want the BPA to take an even more active role in addressing these issues, while others think the board is too activist and anti-change and want it to stay out of politics. The comments remind us that not everyone is against increasing housing density, for example, if it can be done in a reasonable way. Yes, many are siding with this sentiment: “Population density will destroy this area. Barron Park will be the only quiet, graceful, safe place for family’s to live in peace. Stop the madness!” But a noticeable number of respondents expressed this opinion: “The number one problem in Palo Alto is the shortage of affordable housing. That should trump all other concerns.” As one person wrote, “There are many different points of view in the community.” It is an ongoing challenge for the BPA to represent all residents in these matters.

To my delight, there is quite a bit of interest in a Barron Park community center. What would it be like to have a place with meeting rooms, a BBQ patio, perhaps even a swimming pool in Barron Park? A sentiment by more than one respondent was, “This would be AWESOME to have here in the neighborhood! I don’t know where we would put it – but I would LOVE it if we had such a place!” While not everyone agrees there is a need, there are many ideas for location and features.

We also got several pages worth of comments on our request for the top five items of priority for the BPA. I can’t possibly do them justice here, and many fall into the hot topics mentioned previously. As intended, the responses will help us prioritize our efforts. There are many ideas we will have to pass on to the city or county. Clearly, all residents like this neighborhood and would like the BPA to foster community and preserve livability. One respondent reminds us to “Make Barron Park more friendly AGAIN – know, greet and help your neighbors.”

As you have seen in my recent newsletter columns, the BPA board has been quite active on many of these concerns. Most of the work happens outside board meetings and often out of sight, e.g., when Nancy Hamilton and Patrick Coyne spend countless hours assembling the newsletter, Richard Elder manages the mailing lists daily, Lydia Kou prepares for a multifaceted movie in the park evening, and many board members attend regular housing development, traffic, CPI, and Palo Alto Neighborhoods meetings.

However, it is important to remember that the BPA is not a separate entity with paid staff. You are the BPA. The BPA is a group of neighbors volunteering to get things done, and we are all volunteers with families and day jobs. So if something is important to you, please join the board and contribute. More community services via the BPA are very much needed and appreciated.

Looking for ideas? Emergency preparedness got a 95% importance rating, but we need a new chair! Housing development appears in every other comment, but we lost our housing chair to the startup life. There are votes to revive social meetings like the holiday party or the welcoming party, but we need those caring people to organize them. The community needs you! A good way to check out opportunities to help is the aforementioned gathering on January 7.

Thanks again for your input to the BPA. Please consider volunteering for the BPA and working on one of those important issues.

(This is an updated version of my Fall 2014 BPA Newsletter column.)