Guest opinion: Completed McKelvey Park project combines flood protection with recreation | News | Mountain View Online |


Guest opinion: Completed McKelvey Park project combines flood protection with recreation

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Valley Water's work on a flood protection project at McKelvey Park in Mountain View, which incorporates great recreational benefits for our community, is complete. And soon, residents will hear two words that signify the park is open to the community: "Play ball!"

Earlier this month, Valley Water finished part of the Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project with the construction of sunken baseball fields at McKelvey Park. The improved fields look incredible and will double as a place to contain floodwaters when Permanente Creek overflows.

Permanente Creek has a history of flooding, having experienced major flooding on at least 11 occasions, most recently in 1998. Flooding can result in millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses and schools.

Once completed, the Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project will provide flood protection to approximately 2,200 properties in Mountain View and Los Altos. An estimated 630 parcels that are downstream of El Camino Real will be removed from the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map, meaning they will no longer be required to pay for flood insurance. This could potentially save those property owners over $1 million in insurance premiums.

The McKelvey Park project was built as a dual-purpose facility, providing flood protection to downstream neighborhoods and recreational space for Mountain View residents. Other community highlights of the McKelvey Park portion of the Permanente Creek Flood Protection project include terraced bleachers for families and fans to watch the games, a mini-park facility with playgrounds, concession and scorekeeper's booths, storage, restrooms and a community room.

On Saturday, Feb. 29, at 11 a.m., the city of Mountain View and Valley Water will host a ribbon-cutting event for the completion of the flood protection project at McKelvey Park, which will be followed by a ceremonial first pitch and a Little League baseball game. Please come join us in this community celebration, where refreshments will be served, and a souvenir commemorating the event will be handed out.

The construction at McKelvey Park happened simultaneously with creek widening work along Permanente and Hale creeks, located next to the fields. The overall efforts are part of Valley Water's commitment to keep residents and businesses safe through our flood protection programs.

Funds for the $89 million Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project derive from Measure B, the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection special parcel tax that was overwhelmingly approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2012.

Another part of the project, flood protection improvement within Rancho San Antonio County Park, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. These improvements will also include additional parking and greatly improved restrooms.

The sunken baseball fields are approximately 4.5 acres and 18 feet deep. Valley Water built an inlet and outlet to allow water flows to enter and exit the fields. After large storms pass through and creek flows recede, captured water from the flood basin would then be slowly pumped back into the creek. Flood flows would inundate the site very rarely and the ballfields would drain out in one to four days.

Valley Water appreciates the city of Mountain View's long-standing partnership on this critical flood protection project.

Gary Kremen is a Santa Clara Valley Water District director. For further information, contact your elected district representative at or (415) 305-3052.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


8 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 27, 2020 at 3:31 pm

This doesn't mention that the water district was required to find alternative ball fields for the kids to use during construction but they didn't. Also that the project was far late so the kids didn't have ball fields longer than expected. Also that the project was over budget so the initial cost/benefit analysis no longer made sense. Also that the water district kept backing off how much flood protection was actually needed when Bloch and Cuesta were taken off the table. Would they have decided that McKelvey wasn't needed if the city didn't go along with it?

But eventually the city got some nice new fields and a neighhorhood park paid for by the water district.

5 people like this
Posted by baseball dad
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 27, 2020 at 4:11 pm

My kids aged out and will not be able to play on the new fields, but the park is now a gem and could easily host some major baseball tournaments. As usual the bureaucrats delivered an overpriced field paid for by district taxpayers and used by MV residents. A sweetheart deal

5 people like this
Posted by A resident of St. Francis Acres
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 27, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Not only are we safe from future floods with the improvements at McKelvey but we have a beautiful park for the neighborhood named Schaeffer Park in honor of Don Schaeffer a long time resident of St. Francis acres and former head of Park and Recreation for Mountain view.

9 people like this
Posted by Former MVLL Parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 28, 2020 at 12:45 pm

The new field is not measured correctly. The Little League Small field is to short and not Little League approved. Snack Shack windows do not allow parents to see the field to watch their kid. Score booth also cannot see home plate and no way to know what the umpires call. Not sure if they can even hear as it has a glass window. Umpires will need to wear a microphone. The water district ruined perfectly good fields for a "maybe there might be a flood and we need to protect the neighborhood" No where is it mentioned that this project damaged some of the surrounding foundations of the homes they claimed to protect. Shame Santa Clara Water District!

4 people like this
Posted by Former MVLL
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 28, 2020 at 7:55 pm

“ Distance from the back of home plate to the outfield fence is a local league option, but the following distances are recommended: baseball, Major Division and below, 200 feet”

Web Link

What is the current distance?

2 people like this
Posted by current mvll parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:46 am

180 ft

2 people like this
Posted by current mvll parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:46 am

180 feet

10 people like this
Posted by You're out!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2020 at 11:36 am

The 200 foot recommendation(key word)is not mandated. If it MUST be 200 feet I could see that being an issue but I would venture a guess that many fields across the country are plus/minus that 200 foot recommendation.

Who wants to explain to the hundreds of homeowners about the importance of 20 feet of little league field after their homes are flooded out? Glad nobody will have to do that now.
The new fields are beautiful and my kid can't wait top play their in 2 years.

3 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2020 at 2:34 pm

The flooding of one’s home is no joke. Experienced it twice myself, and enjoyed (not) a drive to work through nearly a foot of water during the 1998 floods. Even when it’s covered by insurance, a flood is incredibly disruptive. Repairs, relocation, etc. Glad to see this project get done and hope it hasn’t been too much of an inconvenience for the ball players in the community.

Would like to see more detail on when the FEMA flood map updates will be done so we can start saving money on flood insurance. Would stink to have the projects completed and then keep paying while the certification is tied up in some bureaucratic logjam.

1 person likes this
Posted by MVLL parent
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 2, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Anyone at opening day see the balls hitting the cement walls and almost ricocheted into the batter's head? I will not be working in the snack shack because I am not there to sell snacks. I will be there to watch my son play ball. We may switch to Pony or see about travel ball since right now McKelvey is not safe with the cement walls and foul balls bouncing back to hit the kids/umpires.

1 person likes this
Posted by MVLL parent
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Mar 2, 2020 at 4:03 pm

There is no real view from the snack shack to watch the kids play. Windows are up to high and there is a big sink directly below it so not even standing on a chair or stool will help.

3 people like this
Posted by Some people...
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:43 am

So 2 maybe 3 workers in the snack shack can't see. What a terrible waste of the entire project. LOL!
This is a winning project because it SAVED the fields. My kid and his friends are way beyond stoked, but obviously you cannot please everyone and someone will always gripe about any negative they can dream up.
We needed the flood protection first and foremost. Wer got that AND a sparkling new field the kids are excited about.
Bye Felicia.

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