SENIOR UPDATE, FALL 2005
By Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair
BABY SITTER LIST
By Suzanne McKenna and Halimah Van Tuyl
ACTION IN LEARNING
By Halimah Van Tuyl
THE OLD BARRON PARK WATER COMPANY
By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian
NEW BPA MEMBER John King
3rd ANNUAL NEWCOMER'S PARTY
by Gwen Luce, Welcoming Committee Chair
PDF [FULL COLOR PHOTOS] NEWSLETTER FILES
FOR MEMBERS ONLY!
This is being written just before Labor Day and the campaigns for City Council are in their early stages, but the comments I make here will still be relevant when you read this. The often-asked question "Why don't we have some/more people from this end of town on Council?" flows from these observations.
Evaluating the candidates
Serving on City Council is essentially a full-time job, although one can reportedly get with a half-time commitment by just attending meetings and voting and not trying to assert any type of leadership. And this job pays only $600 per month (below minimum wage). The first question of a candidate is Does he have the time and energy and the proven commitment to the community?
The second question is whether a candidate's breadth of experience and interests is relevant to the issues that come before the Council? The top priority of one of the current "credible" candidates is an issue that is likely to be on the Council agenda only 2 to 4 times a year, and never as the primary issue. His other priorities were also only blips on Council business. The interests, experience and participation of several of the other "credible" candidates is only slightly better.
A candidate's position on specific current issues is often misleading about where they would stand on broader issues. What is more important and more telling is how the candidate arrived at that position: the priorities and tradeoffs, the understanding of the alternatives and complexities, and the assessment of the risks and rewards. One of my favorite sayings is When you can see two sides of an issue, you are just beginning to understand it.
A Council member's analytic skills are crucial. Although Council decisions are based upon recommendations from City Staff, there routinely are substantive objections and alternatives raised by the public. The current Council has several members who routinely, and quite openly, say that they are going to defer to City staff. To my mind, this is failing in their fiduciary responsibilities, and is no different than complacent Board members of companies such as Enron and Tyco. A candidate's background especially relative to his experience and what he has accomplished should provide adequate evidence whether he has leadership abilities.
"Vision" is another one of those words tossed around in politics, but that doesn't mean that it is unimportant. Palo Alto's government is badly afflicted with a piecemeal and reactive approach to problems. Too often it fails to respond to developing problems, waiting until after they have become full-blown crises. Look first for what the candidate's vision of what our current and pending problems are, and then think about the credibility of their approach to dealing with those problems.
Ability to work in a government setting is not as simple as it might seem. Many accomplished people from other fields have failed miserably when trying to make the transition. Be very suspicious of candidates who overuse the government-as-business metaphor government is not a normal business, but a monopoly and then some.
Finally, a candidate's willingness to listen is crucial. Council has to deal with many complex issues and those issues routinely have many different groups of stakeholders with different issues, priorities and perspectives. Palo Alto also has residents with considerable expertise and ability to research issues, and this resource needs to be better used.
Before I decided not to run for Council, I had started a candidate's
web site. By the time you receive this newsletter, I hope to have
this site converted into one dedicated to the issues of the Council
Many of the above qualities needed by a candidate are difficult to
determine from what is written about him. Consequently, I would
strongly encourage you to attend one of the many candidate forums
Who becomes a candidate
From the above list of qualifications, you might think that neighborhood associations would be a prime source of Council candidates. However, this turns out not to be the case (there are exceptions, for example current Council member Yoriko Kishimoto). First, strength in a single neighborhood is much less of an advantage than you might think. Taking Barron Park as an example, there are roughly 1600 households with 400 belonging to the BPA, but this represents only a small fraction of the roughly 8000 votes needed to win in a typical election. Second, neighborhood associations don't tend to undertake the high-profile advocacy campaigns that get people excited about a particular candidate. Third, neighborhood leaders are often at a disadvantage building support in other neighborhoods because many of those associations are non-partisan and their leaders limit their electoral activity. Finally, many of the neighborhood associations are so thinly staffed that for their leaders to become a candidate, or even work hard for one, would mean that work critical to the neighborhood would be abandoned (with no one to pick up the slack).
Consequently, candidates tend to emerge from groups with a focus on a limited, but City-wide, issue. This produces Councils where many of the members are focused on relatively small portions of the larger issues.
A recent example of this myopic approach is the recent agreement with Stanford. The negotiators for Palo Alto focused on soccer fields and below-market-rate housing, because those were their primary interests. They failed to consider the interests of the adjoining residential neighborhoods, although some changes were made to the supposed "take it or leave it" agreement. Although they were replacing commercial buildings in the California Avenue business district, they failed to consult with the merchants' association. A message from me got the desirability of first-floor retail (in the replacement housing) resulted in the agreement being modified, but it is Stanford's decision, not the City's. They ignored a long-standing issue of businesses in the Research Park not fairly attributing sales to local units (thereby costing the City substantial sales tax revenue). They ignored serious traffic concerns. And the list goes on.
Candidates from southern and western Palo Alto
Council members from southern Palo Alto have been so disproportionately few that many residents think there have been none. The reason is easy discerned I know of no social networks in this area that could serve as the core of an effective campaign. Groups that form around regional issues (for example, Charleston-Arastradero and El Camino) tend to soak up all the participants available time, and don't become anything larger or more permanent.
It is said that a typical candidate needs to have at least one person who wants him to win more than he does himself. A successful candidate needs a core group of supporters with expertise and experience in local issues and campaigning. Even if a candidate without such a team were to be elected, he would probably struggle as a Council member.
The basic problem is that the people who are potential candidates and key supporters for those candidates are spread too thinly to mount an effective campaign. The obvious solution is to have more people participate, sharing the burden but also creating a critical mass of interested people.
Senior Update, Fall 2005
by Mary Jane Leon email.
This most successful venture of the Barron Park Seniors is now being handled completely by three wonderful volunteers, who are doing ALL the work. Rosemary Jacobsen handles liaison with the restaurants, Bob Frost manages individual reservations through emails and a group of phone volunteers, and Julie Spengler maintains the lunch list and name tags. Many, many thanks to the three of you for managing so well!
The volunteer phoners are Patty Eldridge, Rosemary Jacobsen, Ann Knopf, Hariett Moss, and Julie Spengler. They also deserve a round of applause.
Lunches are the second Tuesday of every other month. We have had two good summer turnouts in Bol Park. Even had a brief sing-along at the August lunch (who knew so many of us would be singing off-key?)! Now we move back indoors, to various neighborhood restaurants. If you would like to join us for lunch, you can call one of the lunch coordinators
End of an Era
Well, not really an era, but a wonderful experiment that accomplished some good work. I'm talking about our Seniors Helping Seniors neighborhood venture. As it turned out, several willing volunteers did a lot of good deeds for a lot of neighbors who needed a helping hand.
The Barron Park Seniors group had its beginning in October 2000 when several people got together to talk about what seniors need or want, and what could be done on a volunteer basis by a few people in a small neighborhood. Out of the many ideas presented, two have jelled into ongoing services-the bimonthly lunches, discussed above, and the Seniors Helping Seniors service.
Coordinating Seniors Helping Seniors has been a marvellous experience. I have met so many generous, gracious people willing to help out. And I have equally enjoyed those who have needed a ride, an errand run, or some small help. Sometimes embarrassed, often reluctant to ask for help, they have universally been grateful for the help. The very kind of people one wants to reach out to.
This has also been a learning experience of the best kind for me. I got to go to Family Resources Ambassador training and meet Sharon Murphy, the Coordinator, and many, many people from the wealth of social support services in our City and our County. I have gotten to know the wonderful people in Social Work Services at Avenidas-Mimi Goodrich, Michael Griggs, Helen Landsman, Diane Wilson, Barbara Heller. I got involved with Partners in Caring, a joint venture of Avenidas and Stanford Hospital, managed by Candace Mindigo.
The most important thing I have learned is how much neighbors are helping neighbors all the time, just as a natural result of being good neighbors, without any organization or coordinator. If you stop and consider, I am sure you will immediately think of at least one person you know, perhaps yourself, who is already helping a neighbor in some small way. That is as it should be.
It seems we have been trying to do too much with too few resources. I guess you could say that we bit off more than we could chew. With local senior centers offering so many services and neighbors always willing to help neighbors, the additional approach of a structured neighborhood group is not as effective as we had anticipated
I have recently taken on a couple of additional duties for the Barron Park Association, and I am also wanting to do some volunteer work with children. It seems like a good time to re-evaluate priorities and to move on to other projects.
This column will continue, and the lunches will continue. And we always want to hear from you.
Mary Jane Leon
BABY SITTER LIST A HIT
The Barron Park Association launched a new service for members in early June. We have put together a list of neighbors who are available for babysitting jobs in Barron Park. We now have names of more than 20 potential sitters on our list, ranging in age from 11 to adult. We also have had more than 40 people request the list. At the Welcome Party in August, nine more people requested the list, and two more new people wanted to be added to the list. It seems we found a real need.
If you would like to receive the list, please send an email with the simple message "Please send the list" to Mary Jane Leon email. If you have teenagers (or adults) who would like to be included on the list, please send your first and last name, address, and phone number, along with the name and age of each of the people available for baby sitting to Mary Jane Leon email.
If you are not a member of BPA, you can join on line, or print out
forms to mail in, by going to the BPA Web site
The Barron Park Association's Babysitter List In response to requests from the young families in our neighborhood, the Barron Park Association now maintains a list of teenagers and adults who are available for babysitting. You can be included on the list, or you can receive the list by email if you are a member.
If you are interested, please send an email to Mary Jane Leon.
* To be added to the list, please give us your name, your age (if
under 21), and your parent's name.
* If you want to receive the list, just send an email saying "Please send the list."
* If you are not a member of BPA, you can join through our web site,
ACTION IN LEARNING
Written By Suzanne McKenna and Halimah Van Tuyl
Students at Juana Briones Elementary School are immersed in active learning both inside and outside of the classroom, as the school year begins.
Outdoor fall projects for teachers, students, and parents are focused on the Briones garden and special landscape projects in conjunction with Sunset Magazine. An upcoming fall issue of this magazine features a weather station, composting bins, and classroom study of natural dyes from plants raised in the school gardens. Families and expert gardeners from Sunset have worked over several months to build new garden beds edged in chunks of recycled concrete. Gardening, with the help of volunteer parents, grandparents, and friends of Briones will extend the choices of activities for students at recess.
Teachers Cara Stoneburner and Pamela Dappen are leading multi age groups--- creating opportunities to plant the garden beds as well as projects combining art, science, and the outdoors, making mosaic stepping stones for the pathways.
The Laurence Hall of Science summer teacher's training led by Bay Area scientists inspired Laurie Levy to give up two weeks of her vacation to dive into chemistry experiments and geology challenges, which she will share with her fifth graders, as well as colleagues from other grades.
Dianne Neal's third graders adopt trees and study them on a regular basis all year long, gaining sophisticated knowledge of scientific inquiry, as they sketch, measure, compare, and research trees around school and local parks.
Art teacher Wendy Perry welcomes students from K through fifth grade to the Briones studio art space, where she teaches lessons in drawing, painting, collage, and plein air sketching with charcoal. Besides inspiring the young artists with prints by many typical artists , she and other teachers on the staff have developed original lessons in hand-sewn bookmaking and artist Jacob Lawrence.
Even the Student Council at Briones moves beyond indoor chairs and tables. Over 90 students participate on Student Council Action Teams to plan a wide variety of events and service days for their peers. Green Team, Recess Team, Buddies and Bridges, and the School Newspaper Team provide a forum for kids to generate ideas, plan and gain leadership and speaking skills, and reflect the Briones tradition of innovation. Last year the teams led a Kids Teach Day, where students shared active mini classes in chess, cartooning, origami, how to read baseball cards, and juggling. Another success was a student- organized four week basketball tournament for girls' and boys' teams that involved over 100 students.
New and returning parents enjoy walking to school with their children and making new friends. And we know many of those friendships made during the elementary years bring parents together for mah jong and or informal picnics at the parks even after their children are grown. The Juana Briones parents and teachers invite you to attend a school event, see a performance, or volunteer in this friendly dynamic community. It's our neighborhood school, it's your local school, where life-long connections take root.
Want to help? Need help in an emergency?
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Send your letters to the editor to: NJ Hamilton, 696 Barron Ave. email
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THE OLD BARRON PARK WATER
by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian email.
(reprint from BPA Newsletter, Summer 1996 Edition)
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.
NEW BPA MEMBER John King
John and Alison King and their five children, Jordan (13), Lauren (11), Haley (9), Gillian (7) and Samuel (5), moved into Barron Park in July of 2003. They live at 724 Barron Avenue. They literally moved about a mile from their old home on Fernando Avenue. Their children attend Terman Middle and Barron Park Schools. John was born in Chicago and raised in the Roseville/Rocklin area near Sacramento. Alison was born and raised near Chicago. John attended Stanford University, 1984 B.A. Economics, while Alison attended Northwestern Univeristy and continued her studies at the Northwestern School of Physical Therapy and is a licensed physical therapist (although now a full time mom!) John is the owner/broker of Alhouse King Residential Realty in Palo Alto and has been selling homes full time in Palo Alto since 1984.
John joined the Barron Park Association Board in 2004 and is also the Chairman of the Board for the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club and a board member of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, which his son Jordan has sung with for over 7 years. Alison has sung with many choral groups and currently is singing with Soli Deo Gloria here on the Peninsula. She also works very part time at Weight Watchers as a receptionist. Talk to her if you are thinking of losing some extra pounds!
Jordan, besides Ragazzi, has performed on stage with the San Francisco Opera and the San Jose Opera and is performing in the October production of The Magic Flute with West Bay Opera here in Palo Alto. Lauren is a budding artist and enjoys painting, sculpting and mosaics Haley is a little athlete and plays soccer and basketball Gillian also plays soccer and basketball and likes to draw alot. Sam is Mr. Lord of the Rings and aspires to be just like Legolas and become an archer, we think.
We are very excited to be in Barron Park and really enjoy the community here. It is great having our kids be able to ride their bikes and go to the park with their friends who live here and feel safe in neighborhood. We have also signed up for Donkey duty periodically as well.
Here's a picture of our kids from a trip to Spain last summer.
[Editor's note: Photos are furnished in the printed quarterly editions which are mailed to all BPA members see
3rd ANNUAL NEWCOMER'S PARTY
by Gwen Luce, Welcoming Committee Chair email.
This year's 2nd Annual Barron Park Association Welcoming Gathering in Bol Park was held on Sunday, August 28th, where free ice-cream was served and games were played. The neighborhood turn-out was even greater than last year's approximately 200 babies to grand-parents, neighbors who just moved to Barron Park, neighbors who've lived here a few years, and neighbors whose families have grown up here all mingled amicably together. Although not advertised outside the neighborhood, visitors included friends from elsewhere, and some candidates running for School Board and City Council.
Upon entering the balloon decorated Park, (balloons from our
neighborhood Balloon Lady, Marie Mandoli, 650-493-9180
ballonladyco at aol.com),
name tags printed especially for the occasion
by BPA Board member Mary Jane Leon were given out by Mary Jane and
her husband, Ralph, helped by Perky Perkins and Relda Poffenroth and
the latest BPA Newsletter and Membership Forms were available
remember, only one quarterly Newsletter is mailed free to everyone
join the BPA, be in the know
Gretchen Reynolds and her daughter shared information at a near-by table about the neighborhood Baby Sitting Co-op (650-493-2118), and our newly organized BPA Baby-sitters' List email Mary Jane Leon.
Martha Shirk's Family Ambassador kiosk presented a wealth of
information showing how Family Resources is our community's link
(4000 Middlefield Road, T-2), by phone (650-329-2221), or online (
Edith and Leland Smith displayed Edith's beautiful water-colors and t-shirts memorializing our neighborhood mascots, Perry and Niner. Perry and Niner, themselves, under the tender, loving care of Dr. Inge Harding Barlow and Bob Frost held court throughout the afternoon for all to admire!
Rick's Ice-cream was a big hit (5 flavors - mint chip, cookies and cream, jamoka almond fudge, strawberry and vanilla in cups and cones) energetically scooped by Bud Rubin, Susana Young, Katie and Steve Luce. Cold drinks were in abundance.
The Black family, mom Lisa, high schoolers Daniel and Jacqui, with enthusiastic assistance from little sister, Madi, manned the games ring toss, bowling, potato sack races, ball in the bucket all with plenty of trinkets and candy for winners. Thanks to Catherine Steinkamp et al for helping out too.
Additional kudos to the McElfresh family Scouts for tying balloons to A- frames early Sunday morning, helpers setting-up and taking down, Pat and Tom Sanders, Judy Raynak, Doug Moran, Bud Rubin, (also, for your truck and willingness), Perky Perkins and Bruce Jaffe (thanks for errand running), Bruce for your chairs and ice-chest, Sharon Erickson and John King, who couldn't come but lent chairs, ice chests and ice, Jane Coleman's chairs and good cheer, the Pridmore family for assembling the canope, Mary-Jane Leon, Martha Shirk and Lisa Black for pre-planning support.
Please forgive any omissions the BPA is grateful for all those who came and had a good time.
If you'd like to help plan any of our neighborhood gatherings, just let us know: in a couple of months, the re-opening of Briones Park, at the end of year the Holiday Party, and next spring's May Fete and, if you enjoy greeting newcomers, please also let us know, because we have thick greeting packets we love to have neighbors give neighbors! Gwen Luce, 650-424-1960 or email, on behalf of the BPA Welcoming Committee).
PDF NEWSLETTER FILES FOR MEMBERS
We have created FTP files of past newsletters. See the complete newsletters, including full-color photos! These files are available ONLY to current BPA members.
The directory address will change each year. The new address will be published in the Summer edition. The files may take awhile to download (file sizes given).
[URL of PDF files omitted from this online article]
We will furnish the yearly directory address change on our Online Membership Form receipt, as well as in the Summer edition of our newsletter. You need to be a member of the Barron Park Association to receive the Summer edition, as well as the Fall and Winter editions. The Spring edition is mailed to all households in Barron Park. That's when we ask for new and renewed membership.
3450 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306 (near Creekside Inn)
email James Witt
Prodigy Press if back in town!
150 Grant Ave.
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