Many of you attended the May Fete and Home/Garden Faire and Tour in the last few months. The feedback I have received indicates that both events were very successful. In addition to thanking the people who volunteered to help with these events, I would like to thank those that attended. These events build community, and the attendance that we had at each shows that Barron Park is a very strong community. The effort involved in planning and rounding up the volunteers is no small feat. Paul Edwards, and Erna Glanville and their committees deserve special thanks from the community for taking on this task. I know both would ask that I simply let people know, if you would like us to do this again, please call and let them know you are willing to help out.
There was a major police sting operation at Armando's in the last few weeks. As I write this, they are currently closed down. This business has had frequent visits from the Palo Alto Police, and the drug bust and other charges were the result of a five-month investigation.
I recently graduated from the Palo Alto Police Department's Citizen Academy. This is a ten-week program that is designed to teach citizens about police training and how the department runs. I can tell you that I have been fascinated at every one of the ten 3-hour sessions. Four Barron Park residents are graduates of the first program, and four of us, including Dorothy Harper, Art Wang and Andy Freedman, have just completed the second one. I think we all agree that it's a special opportunity! The Palo Alto Police Department plans to conduct two of these programs each year and I would recommend that you try one out if you have an interest in finding out more about our police department. The next one begins Sept. 11th -- apply now! Call Lt. Sue Mace at 329-2685.
The Barron Park Association has a very close relationship with the police department, and we have found over the last two years that this has improved the police presence in the neighborhood as well as the communication between the neighborhood and the Palo Alto Police Department.
They are a quality organization, and we should be grateful for the services and support they offer our community. The south Palo Alto substation at the old Ventura Elementary School, can still use volunteers. If you have questions about this program, please give me (494-6922), or Eileen Derr, Volunteer Coordinator (329-2524), a call.
Please email me
The legacy of these outstanding contributors will live on, through their work on our behalf and the results of the gift of their presence in our City.
The Hetch-Hetchy aqueduct crossing is complete, so reach D (from the sed basin to Mickey's pasture) is now done except for final grading, including shaping the enlarged Strawberry Hill, bikepath paving, cleanup and planting. Reaches A and B, from the Varian plant to the confluence structure at Matadero Creek, are also finished except for final grading, paving, cleanup and planting.
Reach C, which includes the confluence structure, is the one remaining construction site. The last cement pour was done June 7. The box culvert is now completely finished and backfilled.
INA Construction, the general contractor, has been granted a few extra days to finish, based on change orders from the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Therefore, the expected completion date for ALL construction will be mid-July (originally was July 3). (see poem in this issue by Hazel Rand of McGregor Way).
As everyone has doubtless noticed, the El Camino culvert crossing is FINALLY done. Phase IV, which runs along the back of the Chimalus Drive homes, from El Camino to the bikepath, has been finished except for revegetation. Planting of both Phase IV and V will be done this coming autumn, which is the correct season for landscape planting in this climate. The contractor is responsible for maintaining the vegetation for a three-year establishment period. After the autumn of 1999 the project will be history...REALLY!
The city is currently designing some new barriers for review by the BPA. They will probably be upright metal pipe barriers about three feet high, similar to the one installed at the pedestrian walk-through on the temporary bikepath detour, at 1070 McGregor Way. The problem will be in coming up with a design that will be effective in blocking motorbike access while allowing bicycle trailers to pass. A suitable omni-purpose design may not be feasible.
The BPA and the City needs to hear from you on this question -- which function is most critical? The original reason for the barriers was (and is) safety and noise. Certain inconsiderate motorcyclists used to roar up and down the bikepath in the middle of the night, keeping nearby residents awake. This problem proved nearly impossible for the police to prevent. Weighing the desires of bicycle owners to use the bikepath with their trailers, against these considerations, makes for a difficult decision. Call Parks Committee Chair Doug Graham at (415) 493-0689.
The BPA membership continues to grow this year. We currently have 315 households as members, of which 276 are returning members from previous years and 39 new members for 1996. The pace the members are joining could make this a record year. 1995 had the highest membership with 377, with this year being the second highest. The contributions for 1996 are the highest ever. This indicates that Barron Park Residents support the work that the BPA does for them and their community.
All Barron Park residents are encouraged to join, so get your friends and neighbors to join and support your neighborhood association. All BPA members are encouraged to get involved by joining one of the committees of the BPA or by becoming a Board Member.
The Barron Park Association Monthly Meetings are open to anyone interested - please contact Will Beckett, President at 494-6922 if you plan on attending. Meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except July and August) at the Creekside Inn on El Camino, 5th floor conference room from 7:15-9:30 p.m.
Speakers included: Dennis Roath, Master Gardener/ Composter, UC Santa Cruz; David Matson, City of Palo Alto Public Works Dept.; Bob Davidson, California Avenue Paint & Wallpaper, and Greg Gordon, Home Preservation Services Company.
The Beautification Committee (Shirley Finfrock, Gwen Luce, Clara Sharpless and myself) thanks all of the speakers and others who participated in this event!
In addition, six neighborhood gardens were open for viewing, and 63 front yards were included in the list for suggested drive-by or walk-by viewing.
Please email me, not-available , if you would like to be notified of our Beautification Committee meetings. Your presence is welcome . . .
Barron Park is looking fine!
The entertainment -- Grass Menagerie, Mayfield and Deer Creek Morris Dancer teams, and Gary Breitbard -- was excellent. The May Pole weave was one of the best. We even had a picture of the event in the Palo Alto Weekly.
The Barron Park Association Board of Directors would like to recognize and warmly thank the many volunteers who made our day in Bol Park.
Without the volunteers the Fete would not have been possible.
Call Paul Edwards, (415) 493-2921, to claim Lost and Found: a Chef's apron in the food booth area; a beach towel.
Rumor is that the entire site including the veterinarian was sold to a developer who wants to build rental housing.
The developer proposes 48 apartments in four 2-story buildings set parallel to El Camino, with garages along the west and south property lines adjacent to the townhouses at Villas de Las Plazas. There will be a greenspace between the buildings, which will face inwards, not towards the street. Entry will be at the rear of the property, with an L-shaped driveway opening to El Camino so that residents can exit and turn right from the development. Instead of a wall or blank buildings facing El Camino, he plans to have shallow patios and a low fence along the sidewalk with gates to the buildings. We urged that a part of a corner unit be set aside as a police substation, replacing the new substation at Ventura. This will be highly visible from El Camino, and will add security for residents of the apartments. He was receptive, but concerned about where the police cars could park. That can be on El Camino, in reserved spaces about where Rudolfo's front door now is. We also suggested providing a few more 2-bedroom units and reducing the total number of units by one or two, since there is a big demand for larger rental units.
The design should provide an attractive appearance at the corners of the buildings, especially those closest to El Camino and Los Robles. Several suggestions were made on how to improve the treatment and appearance of the buildings and the layout of the buildings on the property.
The BPA will continue to follow progress of this proposal to try to assure that what is finally built is attractive and enhances the community.
Walgreens began construction of the new 13,500 square foot store in March and plans to open in mid-August. The Little Garden Vietnamese restaurant (former A&W) still has not begun construction on two apartments above the existing restaurant and a 1990 sq. ft. building for a restaurant in front which were approved in the fall of 1995. A rug and antique dealer moved into the auto parts store next to Happy Donuts which was vacant for years. Apparently there will be a new tenant for Polly and Jakes, recently Firehouse West which closed more than a year ago. Hollywood Video plans to demolish the former La Cumbre building at 3901 El Camino and build a new 7,000 square foot video rental store. The initial design of the building left much to be desired. Perhaps when it returns to the Architectural Review Board in June it will look better.
Happy Donuts in the former AAA Muffler building at 3916 El Camino is open 24 hours. There was some concern initially that an all night business might attract people to just hang out, but in fact there have been no identified problems. The presence of customers all night, including the occasional cop, seems to have kept problems in the area down.
Arby's proposal for a restaurant at the former used car lot at 4131 El Camino has been inactive since the preliminary plans were rejected last year, with requests for better building appearance and more landscaping. Dinah's revised plans for a new restaurant with underground parking were approved early this year, but construction still has not begun.
Replacement of the Palo Alto Hyatt with about 92 townhouses and single family homes was dropped when a new owner bought the property for about $9.1 million. He plans to renovate the existing building, add more rooms, enhance the conference rooms, and reopen as a hotel.
The Barron Park Preschool at La Donna and Kendall complied with the City-imposed requirement to return to the legally permitted 24 students from the 45 who were attending. There still are parking, traffic and safety issues with the school operations. Parents double park in the narrow street when dropping off or picking up children. There is insufficient on-site parking, causing back-ups and even blockage of the street during rush hours. These conditions are of concern to neighbors and to the BPA, and were passed on to the PAPD traffic enforcement.
Street & Sewer Repairs:
Barron Park has some of the best streets in Palo Alto. We must, because the $1.6 million 1996 street repair contract includes only Amaranta from Maybell to Georgia and Clemo from Amaranta to Maybell for resurfacing. Or maybe Public Works is waiting until after the flood control project is done, and the new storm drains are installed before doing any major street repaving. The sewer lines will be relined between Chimalus and Varian along the Matadero bypass, and along Laguna to Ilima, then down Ilima to McGregor and the V.A. Hospital.
Anne's claim to fame is her work at the Senior Center of Palo Alto in the Senior Housing Services. She is an experienced housing counseling professional, providing information on housing options to seniors and caregivers in the Palo Alto area.
Anne also does a masterful job with Shared Housing, matching seniors with other seniors, or with younger adults, for mutual benefits of companionship, finances and household assistance. Because of Anne's sensitivity to needs, and intuitive approach, these matches have usually been very successful.
Both Henry and Anne are willing volunteers, always helping turn the hot dogs at the May Fete, or whatever else is needed. They spend what spare time there is gardening, and both enjoy music, folk dancing, and cross-country skiing.
An interesting little-known bit of historic fact -- Anne tells me when they bought their home on Florales, there was a full-blown bomb-shelter in the front yard -- complete with built-in bunks, etc.! They have long since converted this into a wine cellar, since Henry is a wine buff, and is stocking it with his own "squeezin's." (Wonder if '96 is a good year?)
It's been fun introducing the Sturtevants to you all. Do you know someone who has made a difference, that you would like to see honored in this series? If so, email
. . . Till next time --
Several private water companies used to supply water to different parts of Barron Park. Probably the most significant of these was the Barron Park Water Company, run by Cornelis Bol. At the time it sold out to the City of Palo Alto, it supplied roughly the northwest half of Barron Park, including all of Matadero, Chimalus and Barron Avenues, Roble Ridge, Laguna from Matadero to Barron, Whitsell, Kendall, La Selva, LaDonna from Kendall to San Jude, and all the cul-de-sacs off of those streets.
The water came from three deep wells, each more than 500 feet deep. Two of these (Matadero #1 and #2) were located on Matadero opposite Whitsell, where one of them served until recently as one of Palo Alto's reserve emergency water supplies. Currently, the BPA is trying to persuade the City to reactivate it. The other one, the "Strain Well", was located at 3683 La Donna, and was named for the family that ran a dairy in that area.
The origin of this company is interesting. It was founded May 14, 1928 as the Emway Mutual Water Company, the name being an acronym based on the founder's family names (Eastus, Meyn, Watt, Alsgood and Young). At that time there had been about 130 properties subdivided out of the original 350-acre Barron Tract. The new company was considered "the successor to the Matadero Water Company", so apparently it wasn't the first in the area. The idea was to provide irrigation to the orchards, crops, and cottages along Matadero, Chimalus, Whitsell and neighboring streets, from Matadero Well #1.
The original five families provided the company's initial capital, partly as paid-in shares and partly as loans to the company. The principal shareholder and largest creditors were Luther and George Young. Luther served as the first President and probably was the real driving force behind the company. Cornelis Bol's name first appears in the company records as the newly elected Secretary-Treasurer, January 1, 1939. The company expanded operations to Roble Ridge in 1940.
Bol tried to take control of the company September 24, 1939, with an offer to buy the other owners out. There was opposition, and early in 1940 Joseph Watt made a takeover attempt. For several years, Board meetings were strained as Bol attempted to persuade the others to prepare for the coming post-war expansion, and the others remained interested primarily in how much they could take out of the company in dividends. Cornelis succeeded in persuading the others to sell to him, May 24, 1942. He later changed the formal name to the Barron Park Water Company, but most people called it the Bol Water Company.
The Bols ran the enterprise as a family affair, like everything else they did. The Bol sons were kept busy reading meters, and responding to complaints of low pressure, leaks or muddy water. Cornelis managed customer and financial affairs and handled major repair and maintenance jobs. Some were major indeed, such as the underground collapse of the well casing on Matadero #2. This stimulated the purchase of the Strain well and installation of the La Donna pumping plant. On another occasion, the 25,000 gallon steel tank fell off its tower and was partially crushed. It was repaired and remounted horizontally just above ground level in a concrete cradle. Henceforth, the system was pressurized with compressed air, rather than depending on gravity to provide adequate water pressure.
After the war, the anticipated residential development of Barron Park exploded, impacting the water company with recurring requests for new mains, hydrants and connections. The Bols were constantly harassed by middle-of-the-night emergencies as the rapidly aging mains, connections, pumps and valves were strained in keeping up with the neighborhood's burgeoning growth. Cornelis was very busy at Stanford and brought Klaas, the oldest son, into the management of the firm. Klaas was the manager from 1949 until he moved to Schenectady, NY in 1951. Even after that, as Cornelis and Josina were forced to resume the management and day-to-day operational control, they depended on Klaas' business knowledge and accounting skills to handle the rapidly increasing tax and accounting requirements.
The post-war years saw one tax problem after another. Cornelis found that the company was supposed to be paying corporate income tax to both the U.S. and the State, something which apparently had never been done. He underwent a quick self-taught course in U.S. corporation and tax laws as, in quick succession several tax or legal emergencies followed each other. The County cracked down on private water companies which failed to pay the county franchise tax (it was either that, or get their mains out of the public streets and rights-of-way). The state informed Bol that the Emway Corporation had failed to secure ongoing registration and, as far as it was concerned, had ceased to exist in 1932. The U.S. and the State billed them for the unpaid corporate income taxes and penalties.
Relations with local government bodies were not the best, either. The City of Palo Alto twice refused to consider Bol's proposal to establish a cross-connection with the City system at El Camino and Barron Avenue, to serve as an emergency back-up. The Barron Park Fire Protection District (the "volunteer fire department"), which was undergoing its own financial and political crises, got more than a year behind in payment of hydrant rental fees to the company, adding to its financial precariousness.
There were many business problems, too. Josina learned double-entry bookeeping from Klaas and upgraded the companies' books, which had been both informal and incomplete.
Also, in the late 1940s and early 1950s they had to deal with a rapidly fluctuating customer base -- about half the houses on Chimalus and Matadero, for example, were occupied by renters. The renters came and went and didn't always pay their final water bills. A cut-off notice form became a necessity.
In spite of all this, however, the company was on the whole, quite successful. The grit and determination of the entire Bol family made it so. The company met the construction challenges of rapid growth, the maintenance and repair challenges of the aging plant and equipment, and the business and legal challenges and still managed to pay family members reasonable salaries for their work. All taxes were paid up, no creditors had to wait for payment, customers were usually satisfied with the service, emergency loans from Cornelis were all repaid by the company, and the Bols were able to pay themselves dividends from operating profits almost every year.
However, in 1953 when most of the Bol sons had left home, it became too much for Cornelis and Josina. When the City expressed interest in taking over the system and modernizing it, Cornelis was glad to negotiate a sale. The City had already taken over both the Los Robles and the Las Encinas Water Companies, and it was clear that the era of small private water companies in Palo Alto was ending. The final meeting of shareholders was held June 4, 1953, the sale to the City went through in July, and all affairs were wound up by March, 1954. The "Bol Water Company" was history, after 26 years of providing water to Barron Park residents.
Please email me if you have Barron Park history information or old photos you would like to see reproduced in my upcoming Barron Park history book. -- Thanks, Doug Graham.
During the last two years the cleanup of our underground pollution was greatly slowed by the Matadero Bypass project since at one time or another most key pumping wells were disconnected. As of the end of May 1996, ALL pumping wells are in optimal extraction mode for the top and fifth zone aquifers and during June and July pumping in the fourth and then the second and third zone aquifers will be brought up to full complement once again.
Watch and hope, we may yet hold our pollution free party this century! Many thanks to Art Bayce and Marianne Strickfaden -- You were great during these last 10 years through all those long 8-hour marathon negotiating sessions and all the other problems.
If you have questions regarding this issue, please email me
DISASTER PLAN PROGRESS
Representatives from the BPA Emergency Preparedness Committee attended the May 2, 1996, meeting of the Palo Alto Neighborhood Organizations' Disaster Preparedness Steering Committee. At this meeting, Palo Alto Fire Chief Ruben Grijalva announced that June Fleming, the City Manager, had provided funding for the next fiscal year for the Disaster Preparedness Coordinator and for emergency supplies for the program. Chief Grijalva thanked the Steering Committee for their work on the neighborhood organization portion of the master plan. This work helped secure the funding. He singled out Barron Park for our key contribution in providing the original framework for the neighborhood plan.
The name originally selected for the neighborhood program, Survival Action For Emergencies, had to be changed since the acronym, SAFE, was being used by another Palo Alto organization. The Steering Committee selected a new name, Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities, which resulted in the new acronym, PANDA. This could lead to interesting possibilities in publicizing the program.
The Palo Alto Veterans Hospital on Miranda Ave. now provides emergency services for South Palo Alto. This will result in the saving of critical minutes in getting patients to emergency care. Stanford Hospital will still receive severe trauma cases as it is the only trauma center in the area. Individuals will still have the option to select the hospital they prefer. A heliport is to be added to the Veterans Hospital to permit helicopters to land with emergency cases.
The BPA Emergency Preparedness Committee has been asking for access for Barron Park residents to the Veterans Hospital in cases of emergencies, such as a major earthquake, where Stanford Hospital could be cut off, or where there could be an overload of injured people. The new arrangement will not only take care of that possibility but will also provide emergency services for South Palo Alto at all times. We are pleased that we now have the Veterans Hospital available to us living in Barron Park, and to all of South Palo Alto.
If you have questions regarding these issues, please email me: email unavailable
At our regular meetings with the Palo Alto Police Department, we discussed the following items of interest to the Barron Park neighborhood.
The rate of crime incidents in Barron Park has been at a low level. There have been some auto break-ins, a few residential burglaries, and a number of bicycle burglaries (several from garages). There were some reports of vandalism to vehicles and a picnic table was found in Matadero Creek.
Officer Jennifer Jones will again patrol Barron Park, starting in June, after returning from a special motorcycle training program. Officer Jones will be watching for pedestrian, motor vehicle and bicycle traffic violations, with emphasis on speeding and failure to observe stop signs.
Graffiti has been reported at several locations including the new sediment basin which is part of the flood project near Barron Creek, the PAR course at Gunn High, Bol Park, the Matadero bridge, and buildings and bus stops on El Camino.
To report graffiti, call the City of Palo Alto GRAFFITI HOTLINE at 496-5904.
If a crime is in progress, call 911 immediately. To report past or suspicious events, call the police business number, 329-2413.
If you have questions regarding these issues, please email me: email unavailable
The traditional English dances are vestiges of the annual village (community) carnivals (fetes) held to celebrate either spring (birth/renewal), mid-summer, fall (harvest) or mid-winter or their religious equivalents. All the dances were originally included in the term "caroling," which meant that people sang as they danced. In the villages, the carnival usually consisted of several of the following: village games, the hoisting of the Maypole, the choosing of the lord and lady of May, the wooden horse on which people rode or paid a forfeit, the setting up of a green bower or bar for the sale of the specialty brewed Whitsun ale, a feast in a local barn the carrying of a specially baked cake, the procession and dances of the Morris Dancers and the antics of the "fool" or man-woman or Robin Hood, plus much singing and merrymaking.
In England there are three major traditional ritual dance types. The best known of these are the MORRIS DANCES, of which there are two main forms, The COTSWOLD (Glouces-tershire and Oxfordshire). MORRIS DANCES were traditionally performed in May (at Whitsuntide) by six male dancers dressed in white, with colored sashes or ribbons, hats or various designs decorated with spring flowers and ribbons, and bells and ribbons on their legs. They danced with white handkerchiefs or badricks (sticks) and were often accompanied by a garishly dressed "fool." Sometimes there was also a cakebearer, carrying a "good-luck" cake impaled on a sword. Central to each set dance was a theme such as fighting, stick clashing or leaping. The PROCESSIONAL MORRIS DANCES originated in Lancashire and Cheshire as part of renewing the rushes on the church floor at the end of summer The number of dancers consisted of at least 8 men who process in two lines, twirling brightly colored slings or ribboned sticks, stopping from time to time to perform set dances. They used to be accompanied by a coal-blackened "man-woman" with a broom. The dancers wore beflowered hats, white shirts, a profusion of ribbons, sashes and beads, breeches and iron-soled clogs All women teams are sometimes called Carnival Morris Dancers.
Two other forms of Morris Dances are the (Welsh) Border Morris Dances and the Molly Dances of East Anglia, both featuring dancers with coal (work) blackened faces, fancy hats and occupational costumes (often rags and tatters).
The second type of traditional dance is the INKED SWORD DANCE, originally from Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire. A team usually consists of five to eight men linked together by metal or wooden "swords" with handles. They perform various circling or intertwining figures, usually finishing with swords locked together in a "knot" or "rose," which is then displayed by the leader. The dancers are usually accompanied by a Tommy and a Betsy. The dance is sometimes performed in company with a mummers' play (masked players mime a traditional story), just after Christmas. The third ritual dance is the Maytime HOBBY-HORSE DANCE from Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. The central figure is the hobby or wooden horse, which was a man covered by a cloak and wearing a mask. Another form of this dance type are the Horn Dances of Staffordshire.
The custom of dancing round the maypole with plaited ribbons was only started in 1889 by a Professor Ruskin. The music for the dances can be very colorful, much dating from the 18th and 19th Centuries, with a few pieces from earlier periods.
A retired professor, Arthur Bayce, known as Art or "Uncle Art" to his many friends, is a 30-year member of the Barron Park Association Board of Directors. He has worked tirelessly on many community problems during this time, but has been particularly successful in obtaining equitable solutions, very often involving huge sums of money, for Barron Park residents, during the last 10 years. He chaired the two successive BPA committees which gave us the first and second editions of "Living With our Faults," and pressed for the availability of the VA as an Emergency Hospital.
He chaired the BPA committee that arranged the Toxics Evacuation Drill in 1987. He has been a very strong active force on the committee that for ten years has worked on the Hillview-Porter-Barron Park Neighborhood pollution cleanup project and which will continue into the foreseeable future.
He is a very hardworking member of the Matadero Bypass Oversight Committee and will help keep a watch on the re-vegetation and myriad of other details necessary to complete this project.
Art is an active representative for Barron Park, and a guiding force in PANDA (Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities). In addition, Art chairs the BPA Community Safety Committee and as one of the first eight graduates of the Palo Alto Civilian Police Academy, does duty at the Ventura Police Substation.
Why is Art so successful as a Community Leader in getting positive action and how does he pry open the purse strings? Well, Art listens to all the suggestions going on round him and then turns the key ones into a positive course of action in which Barron Park wins, but the people giving the funds, can also feel they are getting their times of glory.
Art has never been a "Glory Grabber" and leads by working hard himself and encouraging others to do the same. In addition, he believes strongly in human communication and although highly computer literate, uses his 'phone to get things effectively and efficiently completed.
PEACE, PERFECT PEACE
Two years have gone. The work is done.
We'll flood no more. The battle's won.
No more shall we, whose homes are nigh
The bikepath, see huge trucks go by
Each week day, hour after hour
Above our backyard fences tower.
Grinding forwards. In reverse --
Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding -- 'twas worse!
Garden pleasures we were denied
Because we had to stay inside.
Our doors and windows we kept shut
To keep the noise and fumes and smut
From entering our several rooms.
Our homes began to feel like tombs.
Time marches on and memories fade,
And we'll forget the price we paid
When winter storms bring rain and mud.
We'll know our creeks will no more flood
Into the homes of neighbors who
Have suffered water rushing through,
And endless hours of bagging sand
Alongside those who gave a hand.
The day has come. The work is done.
We'll flood no more. The battle's won.
-- Hazel Rand -- 1996
The BPA is not like us others. Their manners are e'er so polite.
But they never mean anything serious 'till they talk of justice and right.
When they stand like a cow in the creeklet, with their sullen eyes on your own
And grumble, "This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the BPA alone!"
(Apologies to Rudyard Kipling)
-- Inge Harding Barlow 1986