Redwood City Plans Parks Connecting Downtown to the Bay

Redwood City plans parks connecting downtown to the Bay

in Community

Plans are taking shape for transforming a small parking lot next to the main Redwood City Library into the first of three downtown parks. Located on Middlefield Road across from Milagros restaurant, the 1.5-acre site could by next year become the first link in a chain of parks, open space and trails that would lead from downtown out to the bayside east of U.S. 101.

A second park would be created in the parking lot behind City Hall and the post office on Jefferson Avenue, and the third would be in a less-developed area on Bradford Street, along Redwood Creek, which could include a trail with scenic overlooks and interpretive signs. By following the path east, people could ride bikes or walk to the bay via the Main Street freeway undercrossing, which opened last year.

“We’ve never had a true connection to the creek,” says Park Landscape Designer Claudia Olalla, who has been gathering community comment about the parks and the amenities people want. The Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department received more than 1,000 responses to a survey about the library park in July, and city staff is analyzing the responses.

Parks for Picnics

Development during the last decade has brought thousands of residents downtown, and the city is trying to create a few “neighborhood” parks for people to enjoy. So far, Olalla says, respondents to the survey about the library park strongly favor a water feature. They also want casual uses such as spending time with friends, sitting and eating, or working with cellphones and laptops. Another possibility might allow businesses such as restaurants to rent space for food-related events.

In its current concept, the park by the library would include an entry plaza on Middlefield Road, a few landscaped areas, and a courtyard and central plaza. Park planners are also working with library staff to investigate combining children’s activities indoors with opportunities for kids and families outside.

This story first appeared in the August edition of Climate Magazine

A major objection has concerned a loss of parking. Under current plans, all of Lot A’s 51 spaces would go, but some parking would remain behind the post office. The other issue, forcefully expressed at a recent meeting of the city and the Redwood City Downtown Business Group, is the potential for the parks to attract homeless people.

Of the two concerns, Olalla responds, “Those are definite challenges, but there are things the city is doing about them.”

She and department director Chris Beth told the business group members that a census of downtown parking, both public and private, revealed more unused spaces than people might realize. About 600 spaces are scheduled to come online as a result of two new development projects on Main Street, and Olalla says 3,000 additional spaces are projected in the downtown construction pipeline over the next decade, if all projects are built.

Keeping Watch

Beth contends that park activity and programs, planned lighting and an open-landscaping concept will make goings-on in the parks visible both to passersby and law enforcement. “Eyes on the parks are so important,” Olalla agrees.

The city has about $3 million set aside for the Lot A park — $2.2 million in park impact fees paid by developers and an $800,000 grant stemming from the Stanford Recreation Mitigation Fund, which finances parks, trails and related improvements in areas affected by Stanford’s regional expansion. Stanford has around 2,700 employees at its Redwood City campus.

Olalla hopes construction drawings will be ready by the end of the year so work on the new parks can begin in 2023.