Athletic fields, facility leases key to lively Menlo Park race 

The tensions over Bayfront Park and economic growth that polarized the City Council have drawn many newcomers to the upcoming City Council race, in which three four-year seats are up for grabs.

Mayor Nicholas Jellins has announced he will not seek another term, but incumbents Miriam "Mickie" Winkler and Lee Duboc are making plans to return, while challengers John Boyle, Vincent Bressler, Richard Cline and Heyward Robinson have filed papers to join the race. Because Jellins isn’t running, the filing deadline was extended to Wednesday.

The Menlo Park City Council often votes 3-2, as it did over whether to ask voters to approve new athletic fields at Bayfront Park, currently 160 acres of undeveloped open space. Duboc, Jellins and Winkler favored the plan, while Vice Mayor Kelly Fergusson and Councilmember Andrew Cohen opposed it.

Many new candidatesoppose the concept, objecting to the $17 million price tag estimated in a consultant’s report. "I think that number could actually be low," said Robinson, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

"For that amount, we can put them where they’re accessible," said Bressler, who has lived in Menlo Park for 11 years and said the city is deteriorating through government mismanagement.

Cline, also a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, helped draft recommendations to improve the city’s existing playing fields rather than install them at Bayfront Park. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In addition, Bressler objected to the city’s decision to lease its new facilities at Burgess Recreation Center to Team Sheeper for five years.

Winkler and Duboc are both finishing up their first terms on the council, and are pleased by their attention to the city’s budget deficit and the creation of plans to redevelop a half-dozen sites on El Camino Real and to add a new hotel on Sand Hill Road near Interstate 280.

"It takes a while to set a business-unfriendly climate around, but that’s something we’ve done," Duboc said.

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