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Town Square

A peek at the latest plan for Cuesta Annex

Original post made on Sep 30, 2008

Almost 100 community members assembled in the Senior Center last week to discuss the latest plan for the Cuesta Annex -- the undeveloped area next to Cuesta Park which the city intends to make into a public open space doubling as a flood basin.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 29, 2008, 7:42 PM

Comments

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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Plowing up some of the last remaining open, natural spaces to put up a museum to show what Mtn View was like when it had open, natural spaces is beyond idiotic. It's like the Joni Mitchell song:

They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum.
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.



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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2008 at 1:20 pm

How many empty buildings are there in Mtn. View? Why spend millions of dollars and consume natural resources to build a new building when we could easily and quickly just buy or lease an existing building somewhere in Mtn. View? The the economy down now, it should be even easier and less expensive.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I think a better location for a "history museum" is at the "Historic Adobe House" on the corner of Moffett and Central. Seems like the adobe house is very much underutilized now. A history museum would give it a legitimate reason for existence. Right now it is just being rented out occasionally for events like wedding receptions and birthday parties which does not really make sense since there is not enough parking in that area. As a history museum the public could come in on the trains or park in the garages and make it part of their excursion downtown to see both old and new Mountain View.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Sep 30, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I question the need for a new building as well. How many visitors realistically will visit a Mtn View history museum? Wouldnt this be better suited to a room in the library or city hall? Rengstorff Community Center?

Will the city be adding parking to support the museum? Cuesta Park is badly underparked as it is now!


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Posted by Nick P
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2008 at 4:08 pm

There is already a small room in the Mountain View Library dedicated to Mountain View History. The problem is that other than a few glass cases and photos hung on the wall, the room has little space to store or display artifacts and photos, show films, or stage exhibits about the Mountain View area's rich history. Most things are stuffed away in boxes or filing cabinets, and larger artificats can not be collected due to lack of space.

I like the idea of reusing older buildings, but I worry that shoe-horning a history museum into an existing building, unless it's a prominent landmark building, will likely result in the museum being quickly forgotten and ignored. The Adobe Building, like someone suggested, was recently restored to its original use as a community gathering and meeting space. We need spaces like that, even if they are not used every single day. Stuffing the Adobe Building with history exhibits would not only create a less interesting museum, it would undo the work and money the City already spent on its careful restoration as a social hall.

Here's why I like the Annex though. It gives the museum a big head start in creating a place worth visiting. Think of the landscape of the Annex in the same way people are talking about the new California Academy of Science's green roof in San Francisco; the Annex's landscape itself will be one of the museum's best exhibits.

As a kid growing up in Mountain View we took field trips to the Grant Road Farm. It's gone now. If this gets built, today's kids will have the even better experience of visiting the Cuesta Annex, where they can learn about natural history via the native landscaping of the flood basin/oak groves, agricultural history in the planned orchard and community garden, and cultural/urban history inside the walls of the museum. The three components work together very nicely. It's a unique opportunity and I think the Historical Association is right to pursue it.

I've been a big supporter of preserving the Annex for over a decade. In terms of preserving views, from the plans and renderings I've seen - the museum might actually improve the look of the Annex because it's placed back in the corner where it'll actually block views of the tennis courts and St. Francis High campus and replace them with a building designed to blend into the Annex's landscape.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Fred - I think the Adobe House is a wonderful idea. It is period correct, in a good locations, and has already been updated to handle the people traffic.

Nick -- I too have been a resident for many years. As much as I like Mountain View, I have to wonder just how much history there really is in this suburb. I doubt a display on the founding of the first Starbucks in Mountain View will draw the crowds like the California Academy of Science. With the loss of the Grant farm and the construction of that monster hospital building, we have lost too much.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2008 at 11:37 pm

OK, time for some rationality in this discussion.

The museum idea floated last I heard was for a 9000 foot building (with a maximum height of 30 FEET? Seriously?). Lets say that costs one and a quarter mil to build, and $100K a year to run (both conservative numbers). Mountain View is a town of 75,000 people or so, with only several thousand school age kids. How does this make financial sense? Who is paying for this, and how will they support it for the long haul? I dont think it make a lick of sense for the city to put 2 seconds of time planning around an unrealistic pipe dream.

Lets say that by some miracle, this thing is actually viable. I see no allocation for parking in the new plan. Where will the throngs of visitors park? Will the city apply their parking regulations to this project, or just pretend that the rules dont apply to them?


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Posted by Nick P
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm

USA, Mountain View is no run-of-the-mill suburb. The city is one of the oldest in the Bay Area, with its founding in 1850 and its incorporation in 1902. It has changed rapidly over time, making it appear much newer than it actually is. A museum could help uncover the many different layers of Mountain View's past that have been hidden by development and redevelopment.

My comment on the Academy of Science was only to point out how the Annex's semi-natural landscape can serve as an exhibit (like the Academy's roof) - it'd be silly to expect that a little museum on Mountain View History will come anywhere near to the likes of the Academy in terms of popularity or crowds.

But that doesn't mean a museum on Mountain View wouldn't have some fantastic stories to tell. Los Altos is a much younger city with a pretty sleepy suburban history, but they've filled a two-story history museum that was built a few years ago. Mountain View certainly has enough stories to fill a museum of its own. Just a chronological sampling of some I can think of off the top of my head:

-Ohlone villages were located in Mountain View, with man-made hills, "shell-mounds" rising near where Central Expressway and San Antonio meet. One of the only Mexican rancho's granted to a non-European, that of Lope Ynigo, was located at Moffett Field. Virtually all traces of the Ohlone, including the shell-mounds, were erased from the landscape by the 1960s. Their history has been largely forgotten and should be remembered - the museum could help do that.

-Despite the name, Rengstorff Park was the center of the Castro family's Mexican rancho that encompasses all of what is now Mountain View and Sunnyvale. There mansion stood there until the 1960s. Today, everyone knows Castro street, Mercy Street, Hope Street, but how many people know who the Castros were? There daughters Mercedes (Mercy) and Esperanza (Hope)? An exhibit in the museum could tell their story.

-There were once not, one but TWO towns of Mountain View. The first one was located on El Camino Real at Grant Road and grew as a stagecoach stop between SF and SJ in the 1850s. Buildings from the late 1800s existed on El Camino Real into the 1950s. Today there are just strip malls and car dealerships in its location, but through photos and artifacts the story of the first Mountain View could be brought to light.

-In the 1950s Walt Disney hired Arrow Dynamics, a small Mountain View firm (located where C&C Autobody is on Moffett Blvd) to engineer and manufacture many of the original rides for Disneyland. The firm grew over the years and built a large plant in the North Bayshore. They pioneered the development of the modern steel roller coaster right here in MV. The entire flume for Pirates of the Caribbean was tested by Walt Disney himself here in Mountain View before it was installed at Disneyland. Can't you imagine kids getting a kick out of an exhibit on that piece of forgotten history? Maybe we can get Disney to donate an old Dumbo the flying elephant or teacup ;-)

-The City, for most of its history, has been one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse in the region. There are countless untold stories and memories from the various cultural groups that could be told in a museum, the Spanish immigrants, the Mexican, the Japanese, the Portuguese, and on and on have such rich stories and traditions and could be the topic of many interesting exhibits. Costumes from old Portuguese Parades, Obon Festivals, Virgin de Guadalupe celebrations, etc, could find a nice home in the museum.

-Silicon Valley "started" here at William Shockley's lab in an old apricot drying shed on San Antonio Road. Many of the advances and milestones from the Silicon Valley era took place in Mountain View's borders from Fairchild to Google. The Computer History Museum covers a lot of this, but there's no reason why a Mountain View History Museum couldn't display some of the many high-tech innovations which were developed within city limits.

I could go on, and realize that this might sound like a yawn-fest to some people. But just look at the "What was Mountain View like in the 70s?" thread here on Town Square, and you'll see that to many, the history of this town is something they'd love to learn more about.

As for funding this museum - if the Historical Association thinks they can get the funds in line, good for them. If it takes a long time for them to build it - the museum site will just remain grass, no different from what it is today. The impact of the building is so minimal on the overall plan for the Annex that it really doesn't hurt us to include it in long-range plans. I hope it works out.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Nick, you seem to be more passionate about this than would be expected for this web site, so I popped "Nick P" and "Mountain View History" into Google as came up with this

members.aol.com/GCSP/mvhhmain.htm

www.arcadiapublishing.com/news_article.html?id=419,%20442,%20449

www.mv-voice.com/morgue/2000/2000_04_28.perry28.html

Impressive indeed.

But, it makes it all that much more perplexing as to why you would be willing to plow up the last bit of open land in Mountain View. Though you are young, I bet you are old enough to remember the Olsen cheery orchards on El Camino in Sunnyvale. There is now a strip mall and apartments that have "cherry" in their names, but it is not the same. The Olsen fruit stand on El Camino also servers as a cruel reminder of what was. I don't blame the owners. The land sold for $10 million per acre as I recall.

My daughters have found memories of the Grant farm, but now it too is only going to be a memory. Soon large, vacuous houses with minivans will cover that land.

The Annex is in the public trust. It does not need to be sold or given away. Once built on, we will never get it back.

I know the other buildings in Mountain View are not as lovely as what would be purpose-built for the museum, but surely we could find something appropriate that could spare that last bit of land.


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Nick, you seem to be more passionate about this than would be expected for this web site, so I popped "Nick P" and "Mountain View History" into Google as came up with this

members.aol.com/GCSP/mvhhmain.htm

www.arcadiapublishing.com/news_article.html?id=419,%20442,%20449

www.mv-voice.com/morgue/2000/2000_04_28.perry28.html

Impressive indeed.

But, it makes it all that much more perplexing as to why you would be willing to plow up the last bit of open land in Mountain View. Though you are young, I bet you are old enough to remember the Olsen cheery orchards on El Camino in Sunnyvale. There is now a strip mall and apartments that have "cherry" in their names, but it is not the same. The Olsen fruit stand on El Camino also servers as a cruel reminder of what was. I don't blame the owners. The land sold for $10 million per acre as I recall.

My daughters have found memories of the Grant farm, but now it too is only going to be a memory. Soon large, vacuous houses with minivans will cover that land.

The Annex is in the public trust. It does not need to be sold or given away. Once built on, we will never get it back.

I know the other buildings in Mountain View are not as lovely as what would be purpose-built for the museum, but surely we could find something appropriate that could spare that last bit of land.


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Posted by Mark
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 5, 2008 at 12:16 am

Nick,
I think Mtn View should have a better museum than the room in the public library, but I don't understand the argument for putting it in the last undeveloped open space in Mtn View? I actually participated in the Cuesta Park annex planning as a "stakeholder" for the Rex Manor neighborhood group, and I don't remember a museum being put in the proposal. The proposals I saw ranged from "do nothing" to sports center; while a prefer the "do nothing" approach, the sports center at least makes sense to put in a field. But a museum?

How about put the museum in the Mtn View unused train station? What was the purpose of building that anyway?

Mark Lakata


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Posted by Nick P
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Yep, USA, I'm that same Nick that wrote all the links you posted.

Here's how I see it in terms of land-use on the Annex. The Annex is 12-acres. That is a lot of land. If the proposed history museum was a large modern building located right in the center of the Annex - or if it was located right on Cuesta Drive, blocking views of the Annex, I'd have major issues with the Historical Association's plan.

But it's not. The plans I've seen show the museum located in the back corner of the annex - with a pretty small building footprint. The architecture has been designed to look like a historic barn that would actually block views of the Cuesta Park tennis courts. You can see some of the drawings here:

Web Link

So, I have no problem with a building that looks like a barn - in that location - being added to the Annex.

I've always hoped the Annex would eventually be set-aside as a reminder of Mountain View's agricultural and natural heritage. Placing a relatively small building in one corner that is dedicated to Mountain View's history - I feel- only helps secure the Annex's status as a unique natural and historic preserve for the City.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2008 at 10:27 am

That structure hardly looks like a barn and has a very large footprint! Selling this thing by pretending it will have no impact is disingenous- it will be the central feature of the annex.

Nick, where will the additional parking go? The existing lots are inadequate for current use of the park. Why wont any of the muesum advocates respond on this point?


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 11, 2008 at 10:08 am

I have a idea for some of the annex, while leaving the open space but building History Museum and Farm and Garden Center, build a old farmhouse or reloacte one out there, a barn, shed, a small glasshouse, each build can be used to display and show what is was life in Mtn View before the late half of the 20th. A person can walk in and life in the 1880's or the 1930's, photos and an old radio, cars and wagons, plows and shovels, fruit boxes and cans and apricots and veggies all in one place


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Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2008 at 12:13 am

How about at Deer Hollow Farm? It is run by the city of Mountain View, has plenty of space, and would fit in well with the landscape.