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UnivPark Access for School Grounds

This section of our website is to provide a forum for commentary and discussion relating to our neighborhood's access to Oak Knoll School ground by use of the two pedestrian gates on Vine Street at/near Palo Alto Way.  As often is the case, there are lots of views on this topic and many people want to weigh in with their own thoughts.   The goal is therefore to get a dialog going and hopefully come to a neighborhood consensus as to how best to address issues raised in a manner that meets the needs of the neighborhood as a whole.  

If you don't see the comments and discussion on this page, click here to see full information and discussion.


Our University Park neighborhood shares a long border with Oak Knoll School.  Our neighborhood has had access to this land since the beginning, even back before the school when this land was owned by Stanford University and known as Cedro Cottage.  About 1950, the City of Menlo Park, through a lawsuit with Stanford,  acquired the 8.9 acres for $39,228.   Stanford retains ownership of the easement between Vine St and the school.  

1937 map of Cedro Cottage, now Oak Knoll School

Cedro Cottage land -- 1937 (Stanford Archives)

From the beginning of the school in 1951, our neighborhood has used the school grounds as a surrogate play park, since no other play ground or park are nearby.  In the 1970s, Menlo Park built 2 tennis courts and again many in our neighborhood took advantage of this and walked down to use the courts.  Pretty nice as the tennis courts were almost like our "own" because we were the primary users.

Over time, the school population continued to grow from an initial 230 to, in 1996,  568 students and with that growth came a significant issue:  Oak Knoll parents began using our neighborhood, especially Vine Street as an alternative student drop off/pick up.  In 1997 this issue came to a head, and parents were instructed not to use our neighborhood for student drop offs and restrictions were put in place to help insure this.   The current parking and stopping restrictions along Vine Street were an outcome of the mitigation, as was the locking of one of the two gates.    

After the student drop off issue was addressed around 1998, our neighborhood continued to have access to the school grounds via the tennis court gates on Vine Street, just south of Palo Alto Way, and many of the neighbors recall that our  annual UnivPark neighborhood Easter Egg Hunts, Halloween Parades, Friday Frolics, and 4th of July activities used or spilled over on to the school grounds.  It was easy to take the kids over to the school and play in the playgrounds there or to pickup a baseball or basketball game with other kids.  Parents felt safe there as did many of the seniors who used the school grounds for walking and exercise.

However, our neighborhood's use was not all rosy for everyone.  There was still a lot of cut through traffic due the old Sand Hill road configuration and further traffic restrictions were put in place to mitigate that issue during the Sand Hill construction.  Once the new Sand Hill construction was finished around 2006-2007, there have been few issues.  We still have a lot of home construction and service worker traffic and occasional neighbor parties but that seems to be the norm for most west Menlo Park neighborhoods. 

University Park School Gate at Vine St and Palo Alto Way

Current Discussion:

For some neighbors, there was, and is still, a fear that our neighborhood access to the school from the Vine Street gates might cause the old 1997 issue to reappear.  When the construction of the new field at the school and the other construction occurred a few years ago our tennis court gate access was stopped and there has been a desire from some residents to keep that gate and the recently repaired gate permanently closed from use by anyone, our neighborhood included.   The thinking is that by keeping these gates closed, and not allowing them to be used for any purpose, then the problems of the past can't repeat.

On the other side of the thinking, the prospect of the gates being open during non-school hours has some reasoning too, as it addresses the student drop off issue (gates are closed during school hours) and restores access for our neighborhood to a safe place for seniors and kids to have use of the walking track, sport fields, and playgrounds. 


If you don't see the comments and discussion on this page, click here to see full information and discussion.