Menlo Park's Future

 

What Ever Happened To The Derry Project?  A Case Study in Why Menlo Park is Stuck in a Rut.

Fellow Residents:

It is now almost two years since an exciting opportunity to revitalize a blighted corner of our City was turned back by a petition effort.   This project would have replaced weeds and dilapidated buildings with a vital mixed-use project, next to the railroad tracks and in easy walking distance of downtown, a project praised by all environmental groups.  (This project is not on El Camino Real).  Here’s a brief history:

·         After three years of process and more than a dozen public, well-publicized meetings, a small, self-named “citizens group” of historically anti- change advocates, embarked upon a petition drive to stop the so-called Derry Project.

·         Those who gathered signatures promised a special election and open debate on the issue, which is, of course, why many residents signed on.

Since the Petition:

·         The majority of the City Council has broken the public trust by dismissing an open election on this issue.

·          Instead, the Council incumbents gave the petition-instigators -- a small number of non-elected, non-publically vetted people – the task of negotiating a new project with the developer, behind closed doors, with no public input. 

·         To date, some of the deal that was brokered is still secret.

Now What? :

·        The blighted corner remains even more blighted.

·        The developer is floundering to see if he and the property owners can afford to build the secretly negotiated project.

·        Increased business due to new residents and exciting downtown revitalization has been lost to our hometown merchants.

·        Lost revenue to the City (in the form of sales and property taxes, plus over $4 million in recreation fees), not to mention the millions lost to the schools in school impact fees.  (NOTE: according to the school demographer, the original project – unlike the secretly negotiated project – would not have added any children to the schools.)

The Derry Project exemplifies the worst in City governance:

·          Secret negotiations going on out of the public eye, and replacing a very public process with a Council-majority sanctioned private process.

·         Lost revenue to the City, merchants and schools due to years of delay at a time when revenue is badly needed as we look to projected budget deficits for the next decade.

·         Council incumbents that continue to be stuck in a rut of endless study and no action.

And, please don’t be fooled by the council incumbents as well as the representatives of the non-elected group that negotiated the “new Derry Project”.  They will tell you that their efforts “got Menlo Park two million more dollars” in “community benefit” payments.  Even if (and it is a big if at this moment) this project is eventually built, considering the fact that well over that amount  in property taxes and other fees have been lost because of the construction delays, in reality, the council incumbents’ handling of this issue has meant a net loss to our city.

As always, I appreciate your comments, e-mail to menlofuture@gmail.com

If you want to read earlier messages, they are at http://menlofuture.weebly.com/index.html

Thanks,

Lee Duboc

 

Next up: another budget update.