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Survey Results - What's Happening in Downtown Menlo Park?

Menlo Park Downtown Block Party Flyer
Menlo Park Downtown Block Party Flyer

Last week I wrote an article reminding friends and neighbors the Menlo Park Downtown Block Party is this Wednesday, June 19th, from 5:00pm to 9:00pm, on Santa Cruz Avenue. The Block Party will have an area for kids to play, multiple stages for professional performers, a community stage for local youth musicians, a Diaper Derby, bike taxis, and later in the evening, a Pie Eating Contest. It’s an event that brings us all closer together as a community, and is a can’t miss.

If you see Brian Flegel or Fran Dehn from the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce at the Block Party, be sure to stop and thank them. Brian and Fran have been organizing the event with the help of volunteers for years.

There are still a few spaces open for little crawlers to compete in the Diaper Derby. For those who have never heard of a Diaper Derby, it is a race for children under the age of 12 months, who crawl across a mat into the arms of a loved one.  It’s great fun to watch, and a wonderful memory for a family.

For more information, the Diaper Derby Registration Form can be found here:

http://www.menloparkchamber.com/images/stories/chamber-articles/2013_DiaperDerby_Event_Form.pdf

Please disregard the June 12th pre-registration deadline listed on the form. The race is still accepting entrants.

Last week’s article also highlighted the recent investment the City Council made in a facelift for Downtown, purchasing new street furniture, an upgraded irrigation system and improved landscaping.

I ended the article, asking readers to consider responding to a survey where they could provide me with suggestions for Downtown’s future.

I want to express my appreciation and say thank you. Over the course of four  days, over one hundred residents found the time to take the survey. 

Given the feedback, I thought it appropriate to write this article in follow-up, and share the survey results.

Approximately 81% of the responders were women, 19% were men.

7% of the survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. 80% of the responders were between the ages of 35 and 54. 13% were between the ages of 55 and 74.

83% of those who responded to survey said they visit the shops in Downtown Menlo Park moderately often to extremely often.  17% indicated they visit Downtown slightly often to not often all.

53.5% of responders said they would be more likely to visit Downtown if there were parking garages, while 46.5% indicated they would be less likely.

10.2% of survey participants said they visited Downtown less often because of the new parking meters, while 87% indicated the parking meters have had no effect on how often they visit Downtown.

In terms of suggested improvements, while it’s difficult to discuss all of the suggestions, some general themes in survey responses were apparent.

Universally, participants responded that Downtown’s older buildings are in need of renovation work to compete with the upscale retail areas of neighboring cities. But responders indicated they don’t want modern urban architecture, they want charming.

Though responders expressed support for our current Downtown businesses, many residents had suggestions for filling the vacancies.

In terms of dining, the common request was for more restaurants, more diversity in restaurants and more restaurants aimed at serving families with outdoor seating. Others want restaurants that offer activities for the kids while the adults enjoy a meal.  Generally, many responders want Downtown to become more fun. And for the adults, some think Menlo Park is in need of a sports bar and entertainment.

With respect to retail, if you own or are thinking about opening a high end fashion store, but not necessarily a boutique, there appears to be a business opportunity for you in Downtown Menlo Park, as many responders indicated they want a wider selection of stores, with a few select chain retail stores sprinkled in, to augment their shopping experience. And more than a few respondents suggested that our retail businesses should stay open later into the evening.

In terms of pedestrian experience, there were also requests for wider sidewalks and greater enforcement of traffic safety laws, as more than one responder complained of cars rolling through stop signs and speeding through high pedestrian traffic areas. Others want more bike racks. 

All that being said, all of the responders identified favorite businesses and restaurants Downtown. As I noted above, 83% of those who responded to survey said they visit the shops in Downtown Menlo Park moderately often to extremely often.

Merchants and restaurants identified by responders as favorites include, in no particular order:

Cheeky Monkey, Susie Cakes, Draeger’s, Carpaccios, Bistro Vida, Menlo Cafe, Walgreens, Trader Joes, The Picket Fence, Alyce Grace, Calla Kicks, Gerry's Cakes Bakery, Quintesence, Harvest, Barrone's, Kepler's, Head Over Heals, Ace Hardware, Amici’s Pizza, the Sugar Shack, the Left Bank, LB Steaks, Pharmaca, Bow Wow Meow, Walgreens, Harvest, MiYo Yougurt, Le Boulangerie, iBar, Hoot n Toot, Peets. Bagel St Cafe, Gitane, Robert Brian Salon, Traditions, Cold Stone, the Barber Shop, Subway, Penzy's, Manny's Shoes, Cafe Del Sol, Trellis, Amicis, Quiznos, , Peninou, Draegers, Village Stationers, the Golden Shears, Flegels, Mike’s Camera, Starbucks, Union Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Cafe Borrone, TJ, Lux Dry Cleaner, Su Hong, Galata Bistro, Menlo Hub, our local tailor's, Elite Nails, Ann’s Coffee Shop, Touch of Elegance, Avant Optometry, Accent on Eyewear, Bank of America, Iberia, Kepler's, Foot Loose, Watch Store, Baskin Robbins, First Republic National Bank, The Shoe Repair, The Post Office, Graciana, Occasions, Juban, Consignments/Thrifts, Chase Bank, The Goodwill, Head Over Heals, and Absolutely Nails. And many expressed excitement for Menlo Park’s newest dining addition, REFUGE.

Again, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the survey. If I didn’t mention your comment in the summary above, it’s not because I didn’t think your suggestion was important. I read every comment, and value each of them.  There were just too many suggestions to include them all in this article.

If you have any further suggestions, please feel free to contact me at rdmueller@menlopark.org.

Thank you for participating in the survey, and see you at the Block Party!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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