LACI Solicits Feedback On Park

Posted on November 11, 2016 by  
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laci-open-houseLos Altos Community Investments (LACI) held an open house Nov. 2 to discuss its planned green space on First Street in downtown Los Altos.  According to Sares Regis, a developer working with LACI, 95 people stopped by to share input with designers and developers, snack on appetizers and informally vote on amenities they would like to see in the proposed half-acre park.

LACI displayed several boards featuring different descriptors for the park, which would cover the portion of Parking Plaza North that fronts First Street. They asked questions such as “What character would you like to see in the Green?” or “What passive amenities would you like to see in the Green?” with options listed including “outdoor living room,” “dog walk” and “charging stations and Wi-Fi.”

“I used up all but six of my stickers,” said Los Altos resident Harry Guy of LACI’s voting process.  The retired engineer and lead emergency preparedness volunteer said he was excited to see that the plans promised something a bit more than a communal lawn. “We don’t need a bunch of grass, because of the water (consumption),” said Guy, expressing optimism that landscape architects Joni L. Janecki & Associates would install something more drought-resistant.

Janecki & Associates designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation grounds and De Anza College’s sunken garden. Brad Jacobson of EHDD architects is another veteran of the Packard Foundation project on Second Street. “Residents were open to solutions that help solve problems the town has,” Jacobson said of the Packard Foundation headquarters. “There was a way to bridge the charm … with a forward-looking aesthetic. It’s not either-or. There’s a lot to learn from both sides.”

Many Los Altos residents were enthusiastic about the potential project. Ron Labetich, a longtime real estate broker in the city, dubbed the park a “great idea.” Maddy McBirney, a member of the Los Altos Public Arts Commission, said, it was “awesome.” McBirney added that she thought it was an inspiration for some of Los Altos’ other underused spaces, like the Veterans Community Plaza.

Others were skeptical about how the park could change the existing fabric of Los Altos. Guy, who was excited about the park itself, was more nervous about the changing face of First Street – particularly the old home now containing Bumble. It was the residence of Los Altos’ first librarian and is seen by many Los Altos residents, like Guy, as a landmark.

 

Kelly Snider, managing director of LACI, said all critiques are being taken into account. “We are just beginning to consider the size and design of the proposed park, the types of features and elements the park could contain, and the type of programming it could host,” she said. “We are seeking input from everyone in the community and are happy to meet and discuss with anyone who is interested.”

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