Almanac

News - March 31, 2010

Menlo Park council OKs new infrastructure projects

by Sean Howell

New sidewalks on Santa Cruz Avenue, signs at the Onetta Harris Community Center, native landscaping in the downtown area, and better access to schools for pedestrians and bicyclists are among several new capital improvement projects Menlo Park's City Council approved at its meeting Tuesday, March 23.

The council voted unanimously to fund 23 new projects with an estimated cost of $3.9 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The city presented the projects in a five-year capital improvement plan, a change from its custom of listing projects year-by-year. The funding comes from a grab bag of city purses, and from federal grants.

Among the projects:

• The downtown area is in line for a revamped irrigation system, and for new landscaping that will include drought-tolerant plants. Those projects will cost $175,000, and will be carried out over the next two years.

• The city will install new sidewalks on a stretch of Santa Cruz Avenue between Fremont Park and Hillview Middle School, at an estimated cost of $500,000. It has budgeted $1.5 million over the next five years to repair sidewalks across the city.

• It plans to install lighted crosswalks at three Santa Cruz Avenue intersections near Hillview School. The crosswalks will be lit with wireless solar LEDs, a technology the city has embraced in recent years. That project, with an estimated cost of $140,000, will be funded through the federal "Safe Routes to School" program.

• A number of changes are in store for the area around Laurel School, thanks to a $400,000 "Safe Routes" grant. They include lighted crosswalks, signs that display drivers' speeds, an extended sidewalk, and more streetlights.

• The parking plaza in front of Trader Joe's will see nearly $1 million worth of improvements over the next two years, including new trees, additional lighting, and a repaved parking lot in some sections.

• Visitors to the Onetta Harris Community Center in Belle Haven will be greeted with several new signs designed to steer people around the large campus, which is currently sign-free. That project will cost $35,000. The pool at the center will also get a $200,000 facelift, though it will still only remain open in the summer months.

• Nearly $600,000 will go to park maintenance programs over the next five years, such as repairing fences and backstops, replacing benches and trash cans, and re-sodding portions of fields.

Storm drain improvements and devices to remove trash from the city's storm water system will cost the city nearly $1 million over the next five years.

• The city plans to spend $425,000 from its redevelopment fund over the next three years for streetscape improvements on O'Brien Drive, intended mostly to benefit business and property owners in the area.

The list is not set in stone. The council will be able to modify it when it approves a budget for upcoming fiscal year. The plan lists 108 total projects that are scheduled to commence over the next five years.

Go to is.gd/b16qj (case-sensitive) to view the full list of projects. Pages 54 through 65 contain detailed descriptions of new projects.

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