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OMVNA Newsletter

December, 2000
Volume 12, Number 8

New Location for OMVNA Monthly Meetings

Letter from the Chair

Dena Bonnell, Former Mayor, Dies at Age 55

Steering Committee Welcomes New Members

Newsletter's New Look

Pioneer Park Reopening

Park's Name Is Official: It's "Mercy-Bush"

The Downtown Beat: Buildings, Busses & Signs

The Newsletter Needs You

History Corner: The Founding of Moffett Field

Meet Alison Hicks

New Location for OMVNA Monthly Meetings

Beginning this month, OMVNA's monthly meetings will be held in the Board Room of the Chamber of Commerce at 580 Castro St.

Our previous location, Trinity Methodist Church, raised the rent and began to require liability insurance. OMVNA is very grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for providing us with excellent meeting space, and also to Trinity Church for giving us a place to meet for the last four years.

All neighborhood residents are welcome at these meetings. The next one is Dec. 11 at 7:30 pm.

Letter from the Chair
By OMVNA Chair Jean McCloskey (

The Steering Committee will continue its focus on Neighborhood Preservation, Emergency Preparedness and Neighborhood Communication as our top three priorities.

Civic work takes a lot longer than I'd like, but we continue to make good progress. Old Mountain View is fortunate to have so many people who have volunteered their time and talent for its improvement.

Neighborhood preservation: As the charm and character of Old Mountain View are increasingly threatened, more people are raising concerns about it. We will continue to work closely with City officials to preserve and protect the very special community that we have. It often seems like an uphill battle but we remain tenacious and optimistic.

Emergency preparedness: No one likes to think about it, but it is prudent to be prepared for an emergency. Tim Johnson and Aaron Grossman have done an outstanding job of building a team and creating a cache of supplies so that Old Mountain View will be prepared. Training, communication and other organizational issues will continue to be worked on in the year ahead.
Neighborhood communication: Let us hear from you. Come to one of our monthly meetings, check out the website or get in touch with one of the Steering Committee. Our
names and e-mail addresses are on the web site.

I also encourage you to follow the City Council agendas. Take the time to speak to Council members on matters of importance to you and your family. I know everyone is busy, but if we don't take the time -- if you don't take the time -- we'll continue to be victims of ever-worsening traffic and housing prices.

One of my personal goals is to work with the City to develop and implement some environmentally sensitive policies. The city of Oakland provides a great lead in going "green." They use alternative, sustainable energy sources for power among other measures. I plan to do some additional research on feasible and beneficial ways to help our environment and then work closely with the City on education and consideration of such methods.

What are your ideas? Do you want to be involved? Please call me or send an e-mail.

Happy Holidays and best wishes!

Dena Bonnell, Former Mayor, Dies at Age 55

Dena Bonnell, a longtime neighborhood resident and former mayor, died on Nov. 3 from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. She was 55. She is survived by her daughter Kristi Bonnell, granddaughter Madison Bonnell and her brother, Guy Wilkerson.

Dena was elected to the City Council in 1988 and served for eight years, including one year as mayor. She had previously served on the Environmental Planning Commission and been President of the Mountain View School District board of trustees. She was on the Centennial Celebration Committee for Mountain View at the time of her death.

Neighborhood residents will remember her for her strong support of efforts to preserve and improve Old Mountain View. Even though conflict of interest rules prevented her from voting on many issues that affected the neighborhood, she provided support and guidance in many ways. We will miss her very much.

Donations may be made to Dena K. Bonnell Space Camp Scholarship Fund, c/o City Manager's Office, 500 Castro, Mtn. View, 94041.

Steering Committee Welcomes New Members

OMVNA members elected an 8-person Steering Committee at the Oct. 14 General Meeting. Our new Chair is Jean McCloskey. She succeeds Garth Williams, who remains on the Committee as an At Large member.

Jean is the first woman to lead OMVNA, and is also the first person from the area between Shoreline and Castro to be our Chair.

Alison Hicks is a newcomer to the Steering Committee and succeeds Jean as Vice-Chair. You'll find a brief biography elsewhere in this issue.

Bruce Karney returns to the Committee as Newsletter Editor. He has previously served as Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Community Liaison. He replaces Anita Grossman, who has retired from the Committee. Bruce is also OMVNA's webmaster.

Julie Lovins is the new Community Liaison, replacing Chris Whitaker. This is Julie's fifth term on the committee. She has previously served as Secretary and as an At Large member.

Tim Johnson returns for another term as our Secretary. He is the Committee's longest serving member. This is his seventh consecutive year as an officer.

Aaron Grossman will continue as Treasurer for the third year. He has also served on the Steering Committee as an At Large member.

Rounding out our line up is Philippe Habib, who returns for his second year as an At Large member.

Newsletter's New Look

This issue of the OMVNA Newsletter sports a new look designed for easier reading. You'll notice the 3-column format right away, but we have also:

  • Made headlines bolder

  • Made the masthead smaller

  • Put more stories on Page 1

  • Put individuals' names in bold the first time they appear in a story

We also hope to use photographs more frequently, though you won't see evidence of this in the current issue.

What won't be changing are the size and frequency of the newsletter. We'll still come out eight times a year, thanks to our extremely dedicated delivery volunteers, and we'll still give you news and views that will help you stay current on neighborhood activities and issues.

If you have suggestions for articles, e-mail or phone Bruce Karney at 964-3567.

Pioneer Park Reopening

According to a City official, Pioneer Park will reopen the week before Christmas. The park has been closed for several months for an extensive renovation. As this issue goes to press, the new sod is in, but the final paths, lighting and ornamental brickwork are not complete.

Park's Name Is Official: It's "Mercy-Bush"

On Nov. 28 the City Council voted to adopt Mercy-Bush Park as the official name of our new park. Construction is proceeding as quickly as weather will allow, and the park will open in January, City officials promise.

The Downtown Beat: Buildings, Busses & Signs
By Julie Lovins (964-0368

With the early hints of winter have come many craters in downtown, and more are on the way. A three-story office/retail building that will replace the Golden Wok is working its way through the approval process. The TK Noodle restaurant has closed, and it too will be replaced by a three-story office/retail building -- an unusually attractive one that was just approved by the City Council.

Renovations continue on the Mountain View Market, replacing the New Castro Market. From what I have heard, it will be a great addition to the neighborhood.

All of the new buildings will have underground parking, and developers are very conscious of the costs of providing this. It has become the norm for developers to ask for a reduction of the parking requirement in return for providing all tenants with VTA EcoPasses and reimbursement for Caltrain commuting.

You may recall that some time ago the Council Transportation Committee (CTC) was talking about a possible downtown shuttle bus pilot project that would bring workers from the North Bayshore industrial area to downtown for lunch. City staff has surveyed interested parties at both ends and will soon give the CTC information that will enable it to address "whether and how" questions more concretely. The Downtown Committee is following this process closely, in relation to other alternatives that would decrease downtown traffic and parking demand.

The Downtown Committee has publicly reviewed the results of intensive yearlong study by some of its members of regulations for window signs downtown. The proposal is essentially a refinement of current unenforceable guidelines. Most businesses are in conformity with these guidelines. In the near future there will be a conference between representatives of the Downtown Committee and the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC). The full EPC and then the City Council will hold public hearings on the proposal, leading to a final version.

I was very happy to receive suggestions for "neighborhood-serving retail" businesses that local residents want to see downtown. I'm forwarding them to the right places. Please send more!

The Newsletter Needs You

Getting this newsletter delivered eight times a year is a big job, and an important one. Think how much you'd miss it if no one took the time to deliver it to you.

Our Newsletter Delivery Coordinator, Julie Lovins, is looking for a few people who can take over vacant routes or fill in as substitutes a couple of times a year. Call her at 964-0368 if you can help.

The route covering Eldora Street is her top priority. The current delivery person is retiring after this issue.

History Corner: The Founding of Moffett Field
By Lisa Windes

The Naval Air Station, Moffett Field is certainly the south bay's most recognizable landmark.

The US Navy started searching in 1926 for a West Coast air base for a state-of-the-art dirigible to support the Pacific Fleet. Admiral William A. Moffett believed that the superior surveillance abilities of a dirigible -- quietness and the ability to stay in flight longer than any airplane -- outweighed the risks: their tendency to explode! The base would cost $5 million and bring jobs and prestige to the region selected. The Bay Area was desperate for both.

When Laura Thane Whipple, a young real estate agent from Niles (outside Fremont), championed the Ynigo Ranch site on the flat bay lands between Mountain View and Sunnyvale, communities throughout the Bay Area donated $476,066 to purchase 1,000 acres to offer for the base. The proposed site faced stiff competition from San Diego.

The Bay Area learned on December 12, 1930, that the Navy chose Sunnyvale Naval Air Station, Moffett Field as home of its dirigible Macon. The field was named after Admiral Moffett, who had just died in a blimp crash. Mountain View's name had been deleted to calm Congressmen, nervous about the maneuverability of the large airship in the "mountains" near the bay! Despite its name deletion, Mountain View convinced the Navy to route the air base's access road (Moffett Blvd.) through Mountain View.

The dirigible Macon, a 785-foot technological marvel complete with its five Sparrowhawk fighter planes on board, arrived at its new hanger on October 16, 1933. A crowd of 100,000 waited on the field and lined Bayshore Highway to greet her. This was before California's population boom: Mountain View had only 3,301 residents in 1930. The novelty and excitement of the dirigible didn't have a chance to diminish. The Macon crashed during its 54th flight on February 12, 1935. Although a presidential commission blamed the Navy's lack of maintenance for the crash and determined that the lighter-than-air-craft program deserved another chance, no more large dirigibles were ever built.

Moffett Field did not disappear with the dirigibles. It will continue to shape our community in the future as part of NASA Ames Research Center. It doesn't hurt to remember the optimism of an unnamed Mountain View reporter in 1930; "What other developments may come as the years whiz by is too much for anybody around here to know, but there is plenty of talk of still more wonderful things to be right here."

Macon's Wreckage Found

In 1989 David Packard and the Macon skipper's children joined together to find the airship's wreckage off the coast of Big Sur. After discovering a piece of the dirigible in a Moss Landing restaurant, they searched out the fisherman who found it. Using his notes, the expedition found the Macon submerged at 1,450 feet on June 24, 1990.

Meet Alison Hicks

OMVNA's new Vice-Chair, Alison Hicks, has lived in Mountain View on weekends only for eight years. The rest of the week she lived and worked in Berkeley. Alison moved to Mountain View full time one year ago after giving birth to her son, Emre.

Alison was born in Berkeley and grew up on the East Coast. She has a Masters in City Planning from U.C. Berkeley. Alison was the Executive Director of the Berkeley-based nonprofit housing development corporation, the Northern California Land Trust. She now does development consulting. She is participating in the Leadership Mountain View program and anticipates graduating in 2001.

Alison has traveled and lived around the world, including stints in China, Mexico, Central America and Europe. Most of her travels lately have been to Turkey, where her husband Kutay's family lives. In addition to travel, she rehabilitates older homes as a hobby.

The Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association Newsletter is published by a volunteer editorial committee & distributed to some 2400 homes and businesses by volunteers.

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The opinions printed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the OMVNA Steering Committee.

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Last updated: 12/03/00