August 1995 Newsletter

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Welcome to Our First Newsletter
Midtown Committees
Midtown Shopping Center Update
Neighbors in Cyberspace
A Mid-Town Square? One Resident’s Opinion
Cyber Corner
Help Wanted: Our Midtown Community Needs YOU !

Welcome to Our First Newsletter

Change is inevitable and, to residents of the Midtown neighborhood, it came in the loss of a bank, grocery store and drugstore, all convenient services we depend on daily. But change also brings innovation and to residents that means the need to take action.

We want to thank those members of the MRA steering committee who not only got things underway, but also recognized the opportunity for building more community participation and spirit. They are Annette Ashton, Lynn Chiapella, Sylvia Gartner, David Greene, Debbie Mytels, David Squires, and Ron Wolf. "The level of interest of Midtown residents in community-building activities is tremendous," said Debbie Mytels, member of the steering committee. "It was great to see over 40 people beginning to work on our community concerns at our meeting in April." Eight committees were organized, among them a newsletter committee to keep you informed of progress on economic revitalization, action at City Hall, and meetings in the community. "We also look forward to productive meetings with commercial property owners and merchants under the auspices of the city to create a new site plan for the Midtown shopping area," said Mytels.
— June Pratt

Midtown Committees

Lend your interest and experience, neighbors, and get involved in one of eight committees organized at our April meeting. — June Pratt

Midtown Shopping Center Update

City Committee to Review Plans by Property Owners Following a July agreement by the commercial property owners to hire an architect to design a new site plan for Midtown's "Northeast Quadrant," the City of Palo Alto will set up a community committee to set criteria for a successful revitalization and determine if the plan meets these goals.

Basing their efforts upon a City Council vote on June 12, City staff in the Office of Economic Resources Planning have been working to encourage the commercial property owners to jointly fund a site planning effort which would create a unified plan that makes economic sense for the eleven landowners in the block bordered by Colorado, Middlefield and Moreno. Their proposals will then go before a community committee, representing all the Midtown stakeholders, including residents and merchants who lease from the commercial property owners. It's expected that this committee will begin its work in late September and send some recommendations to the City Council in early 1996.

To provide a "neutral ground" for the stakeholder group, the City will hire a facilitator to moderate and structure the process. The committee's first step will be to determine the goals of the revitalization effort. MRA members have stressed to the City Council that any changes planned for the Midtown area should not only be economically viable, but should also meet the needs of the residential community.

Based upon input from Midtown residents, MRA has defined these needs as follows:

Having these criteria accepted as goals by the stakeholder committee will be crucial to the outcome of the revitalization process. If you share our concern for these points, send a letter to Palo Alto Mayor Joe Simitian, c/o Palo Alto City Hall, P.O. Box 10250, Palo Alto, CA 94303. (And send a copy of your letter to David Greene, chair of MRA's Midtown Revitalization Committee, at 3144 David Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94303.)

Along with encouraging the commercial property owners to work together, the City has also agreed to fund a traffic analysis to determine optimal routes through a redesigned shopping area and re-evaluate placement of stop lights, pedestrian ways and bicycle paths. The City is also going ahead with plans for sidewalk repairs which will be done no matter how the area is redesigned. Finally, to assist property owners in making their decisions, the City Council agreed to expend public funds to provide each owner with a pro forma analysis of the economic impact of any new site plan. The goal is to provide information to smaller property owners so they can readily see the "bottom line" value in working on a unified plan. (The Chamber of Commerce has similarly agreed to work with merchants to assist them in understanding the economic implications of potential new design proposals.) By providing these public funds to assist in Midtown revitalization, the City Council has made a statement of the public interest in having a viable Midtown district. MRA members now want to make sure that "the public interest" is interpreted to include residents' concerns as well as those of the commercial sector.
—Debbie Mytels

Neighbors in Cyberspace

A committee of MRA members and other Midtown residents is exploring how to set up an online electronic bulletin board (EBB) for those with computers. Users would be able to compare notes on many different topics ranging from crime prevention to good baby-sitters. It could provide an easy way for neighbors to find out who shares common interests, who has a rototiller, and who may be in need of assistance. The group is slowly but surely evaluating what equipment we need to acquire, discussing how to provide low-cost or free access, and how to provide technical support for new users. If you would like to be involved either as a planner or an eventual user, please email Elliot Margolies at or call 494-2963.

A Mid-Town Square? One Resident’s Opinion

Surely our Midtown shopping center can become, with intentional planning, a center for everything that is so much praised and right about Palo Alto as a whole. It can become an informal center of community life, a showplace, too, of informal, low key community/town planning.

The parking lot needs to have shade trees planted in holes that outline the parameters of a kind of town square, with benches set around it. It could be used for outdoor art shows, occasional flea markets, and the scissors sharpener could set up on weekends. The closed site of Midtown Pharmacy could be a sort of light fare soup and sandwich shop. The site could also front onto the pedestrian square, with tables outside as well as inside. There should be a long formica counter with twirling stools where children can come for a coke after school, teenagers and their grandparents alike can order a banana split made to order, and a milkshake made with old-style machines. Ideally it would be open from early morning into the night.

Do we really need another grocery store? Instead, how about a small children’s bookstore, or a store with upscale, well-designed children’s toys (currently one has to travel to Los Altos or Redwood City for such a shop). The upstairs portion of Bergman’s would be wonderful as a rentable space for meetings and conferences, especially if eating opportunities are in the center. The downstairs portion could be a collective, or a collection of small enterprises, from hand-weaving to toy construction, from cabinetry and custom furniture display to antiques.
—Marilyn Nagy

Cyber Corner

Although we realize not everyone is connected to the World Wide Web, those of us who are might like to share interesting sites we’ve come across. Here are some of my favorites. If you’d like to contribute to the list, send me a note at or give me a call at 856-0869.
USA CityLink Project
City Net
Virtual Tourist II - Europe
Exploratorium Home Page
UC Museum of Paleontology
Earthquake Maps
TravelWeb Search Page

Help Wanted: Our Midtown Community Needs YOU !

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