Opinion: Save the woodland, nature trails and family picnic areas at Flood Park

by Judy Horst on March 24, 2022

The woodland in Flood Park has long been a cherished urban refuge — a site for picnics, group celebrations, and getting in touch with nature. It is also a significant hedge against climate change. It deserves to be saved and passed along to future generations.   

The County is conducting an online survey about the future of Flood Park, one of the County’s oldest parks. The essence of it is to find balance between nature and recreation. The last day to participate in the survey is Monday, March 31.

This is one of those times when investing a few minutes of time can make a big difference. Everyone’s input will help determine the future of Flood Park. 

Please fill out the survey before it closes on March 31, and tell the planners you want to preserve the heart of the woodland, which is slated to be cut down and replaced by a playing field in the current County plan, called the “2020 Landscape Plan.” The community has mapped out several alternatives, which you can see online.

What the County Parks Survey doesn’t bring up is that the County’s current plan is to reduce by half the number of tennis and volleyball courts, leaving only two courts each. It doesn’t mention that when the main sports fields are in use, their plan is to restrict usage of the family picnic areas. They have to restrict picnic areas and other amenities because there will too many people in the park and parking is limited —  that is a sure sign they are over building the park and destroying the beloved nature in the process. 

What about building just one soccer field, keeping the current tennis courts — just repair them. Keep the volleyball courts as they are often fully used, mainly for families, college students and high schoolers. Include new pickle ball courts.

The Parks Department is giving a presentation about the redevelopment process and the 2020 Landscape Plan, along with an opportunity to fill out the survey on paper, at Flood Park on Saturday, March 26 at 6:00 pm.  The session is being co-sponsored by the Sheriff’s Activities League. It will be followed by a Movie Night screening of the popular film, Encanto. Please bring your own seating, picnic, and flashlight!

The County Parks Department’s survey is seeking to re-assess the County’s re-development plans for the park, and the survey includes a question about how to handle tree preservation. Please select the option to preserve the heart of the oak woodland! Two of the other options could actually work against saving the woodland. “Preserve Heritage Trees” refers to just six special-status trees, and “balance preservation with new uses” sounds appealing, but can be interpreted to mean “build sports fields in the woodland areas.”

At the end of the survey there’s a place you can tell the planners your thoughts, feelings, and hopes for the park, in your own words. Please use it to tell the planners that you want them to preserve the heart of the woodland and position the multi-use field alongside the other fields on the sports side of the park.  


Ron Snow March 24, 2022 at 5:01 pm

I hope that we each will take the County Park’s Flood Park Survey. It seems so insane that in a time of habitat loss that anyone, especially the Parks Department, would destroy the heart of the historic Heritage Grove in the woodland at Flood Park. It is the one of the only woodland preserves in San Mateo County, east of Hwy 280.

Worse, is that instead of building one soccer field on the open Sports side of the park, they want to add a 2nd soccer field. To do so, they have to cut out a significant amount of the woodland.

The Photo of trees at the park in this article is an example: Virtually every tree you see in that photo, both foreground and background are set to be cut down. Along with that, the wonderful shaded picnic trees spread under that woodland canopy will have to be moved. Such a waste.

Please take the 5 minute survey. You can access the County survey at FloodPark.org.

Clarissa Ribeiro March 25, 2022 at 3:09 pm

All I want (and they have not added this information anywhere I’ve seen) is that they allow people to walk their pets in the park! I meet so many other dog owners around the neighborhood who never go into the park because they can’t take their dogs!

Meanwhile, the park gets barely any foot traffic throughout the week, with very few people using the current sports amenities because they look abandoned. It’s much better to just walk to MA High School and use their fields instead.

Please welcome dogs in to the current trails! There’s no need for this rule.

Alice Newton March 26, 2022 at 1:16 pm

I have lived adjacent to Flood Park for 35 years and love this park with its majestic big oaks, bay laurels, redwood trees and others. Actually, many people use the park every day – people with kids and babies in strollers, seniors and others walking, people with cameras & binoculars bird-watching, people relaxing at the picnic tables under the majestic trees, people daily playing volleyball at 3-4 courts, etc. Schools, corporations, car & garden clubs, etc. have weekday events with many people. On Saturdays during good weather, the picnic sites are usually all full which is over 700 people. People say even just driving by makes them feel peaceful. The baseball field had to be closed when the Hetch Hetchy pipes that bisect the park had to be worked on and then reopening was delayed to coincide with upgrading the whole park. The new plan will enlarge it into a big multipurpose field. A second large ballfield is currently planned for the heart of the woodland requiring cutting down 22 trees and moving the group sites. To date, over 3500 people have signed a petition protesting destroying this woodland. The second field should be located next to the other field and parking lot where fewer historic trees would be removed. New amenities should be built under and around the big old trees. The picnic areas should be replaced in Phase I of construction with the sports fields because people use them instead of a few years later. See FloodPark.org for info, the petition and to fill out the Parks Dept. survey until March 31. For walking dogs, it is still beautiful to walk alongside the park, but outside. The City of Menlo Park could put a few benches between the sidewalk and park fence which would be nice, especially for seniors when the park is closed for maintanence.

Alice Newton March 26, 2022 at 1:56 pm

Adding that parking is free. Flood Park is open every day including all holidays unless closed for maintenance. Hours of opening & closing change with the seasons and daylight. (The park has no nighttime lights.)

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