BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto City Council is moving forward with opening a public gym, despite a donation of up to $35 million from billionaire John Arrillaga falling through after he died in January.
Anne Cribbs, the Park and Recreation commissioner spearheading the project, said she believes that if the city donates the land, then private donors could still fund the cost of the building. She estimated it would cost $25 million.
“I believe in Palo Alto,” she said.
Council tonight (March 7) directed the Parks and Recreation Commission to do public outreach on a new gym, including where to put it, how to fund it and what other projects it would impact.
A gym would include two or three basketball courts that can be used for a long list of sports. It could also have restrooms, changing rooms, an exercise room, meeting rooms, classrooms and possibly a weight room and showers. All of this would fit on an acre of land, which wouldn’t include parking, Cribbs said.
Cribbs said a gym would need one acre of land, plus parking space.
The Parks and Recreation Commission listed several possible locations: Cubberley, the North Ventura neighborhood that is being redeveloped, by the ball fields next to the golf course, Greer Park or Mitchell Park.
The gym would be focused on children, teens and seniors. Council agreed there aren’t enough recreational spaces for middle and high schoolers. Council members Lydia Kou and Tom DuBois said they’ve been involved with youth sports, and scheduling is always a challenge.
Councilman Greer Stone, also a teacher, said that kids often come to Palo Alto High School on the weekends looking for places to be active.
“It’s a strong need, and I think the city is well suited to fill that need,” he said.
The Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss how to prioritize the gym versus other projects, like a skate park. Daren Anderson, a parks and open space manager for the city, said the gym project will delay other projects.