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Home Run for Big McKelvey

Despite effort by St. Francis Acres community to move baseball field, historic diamond will stay put.

It's the bottom of the ninth, and the score's tied, 1 to 1.

The Little League teams have secured a 60-foot baseball field, and the St. Francis Acres neighborhood team got a mini-park. Both teams can win big—a second and bigger baseball field or a larger park—if they can get the City Council to side with them. And there goes the pitch.

In a unanimous vote, the decided Tuesday to keep the 90-foot baseball field, known as Big McKelvey, at  when the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) builds the flood detention basin at the site. This came, despite the pleas of local residents to move the field to the .

Councilwoman Laura Macias recused herself, because she owns property within 500 feet of the location in question.

"When was McKelvey built? 1969? It was there when I moved to Mountain View," Mayor Jac Siegel said before the vote. "When you [St. Francis neighbors] moved into the house, you knew the park was there. Doesn’t mean we can’t improve it, but you knew it was there."

According to the staff report, the question of whether to move Big McKelvey arose when the water district, which will build a basin below the park and pay for the replacement of McKelvey, received input in a September 2010 design workshop. The input was from homeowners in St. Francis Acres who said they felt they could get a bigger park if the 90-foot diamond moved to Shoreline.

St. Francis Acres neighbors present at the meeting explained to the council that the 300 homes sat on lots smaller than 5,000 square feet. With an average of 1.5 children per home and no neighborhood park, the children played on the streets. Often, they'd find McKelvey Park locked when not in use by the Little Leagues.

"McKelvey is a sports facility, and it's not a neighborhood park," said Elizabeth Thompson, who spoke on behalf of many residents. "We want a children’s park."

The residents hoped that with two 60-foot fields, they could get a larger area of open-park space, walking paths and playground. The proposed mini-park would measure 0.7 acres, an area larger than Park (0.65 acres) and Park (0.48), but smaller than Park (0.86 acres).

However, staff recommended that the council not move the 90-foot baseball diamond, because the city's current Parks and Recreations Plan for the fields at Shoreline already included one 60-foot and one 90-foot diamond—not two 90-foot baseball fields. The plan would also require resettlement of the field off the landfill, additional parking and a fence that would attract raptors.

"The assumption in the recreation plan was that the uses at McKelvey would remain the same," said David Muela, community services director. He said McKelvey is in use seven days a week from March to November. "If we moved the 90-foot diamond from McKelvey and put it at Shoreline, we would have to find some other place for the planned uses."

Muela clarified that the park is locked between December and February for maintenance.

But the community could not convince the council members, who said the conceptual design proposed by the water district met the needs of all the parties involved.

"I support [staff's] plan as is, because I think it’s a good compromise," said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. She added that she would like to see more uses. She also thought it was important to keep siblings of different ages and on different teams closer in proximity. "The interest was to have a park other than the fields."

According to the staff report, with this decision by the council, the conceptual plan now moves to the Parks and Recreations Committee for review and possible recommendations to the City Council. After that, the joint use and maintenance agreement will also be represented to council.

steve S February 16, 2011 at 02:44 PM
If they plan on leaving McKelvey at the current location they should rebuild it with newer type stands, dugouts etc., and keep it locked to where homeless cannot get in. My kids got tired of going in the dugouts smelling of urine!
Claudia Cruz February 16, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Thanks for the comment Steve. Because of the needs of the Santa Clara Valley Water District to put the water basin there, the water district will pay for all the demolition and construction of the new park. The plan you see above is what they envision the new park will look like and, though they didn't explicitly say it, I am sure that new stands and a dugout will be put it. Interesting that you mention keeping the field locked. That was one of the biggest complaints from the McKelvey's neighbors--that the park is always locked! No one ever said that it was for safety and sanitation purposes. When did you kids play there?

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