News - May 19, 2010

Menlo Watch: Goats return to Menlo Park; maybe trees will stay, too

by Sean Howell

Menlo Park loves its goats. The voracious herbivores make an appearance in the city for two to three weeks every spring, gnawing the tall weeds in Sharon Hills Park to lessen the risk of wildfire.

But Alex Cannara, who lives in unincorporated San Mateo County near Sharon Hills Park, chided the city for the practice this time last year, saying that environmentally speaking, it would be better off employing a more conventional method. Trucking hundreds of goats around the Bay Area takes more fuel than conventional mowers would, he said, and the goats gnaw on new trees, preventing them from growing.

The city didn't assent to Mr. Cannara's request to replace the natural grass-eaters with something mechanical — the program is a popular one, especially with children — but it did give Mr. Cannara permission and materials to fence off developing trees. With the help of volunteers from a group of Menlo Park Mormons, those trees will be protected when the goats arrive this week.

In an open letter, Mr. Cannara thanked the volunteers and city Parks and Trees Supervisor Supervisor Dave Mooney.

The goats will be in the park for the next two to three weeks, according to Mr. Mooney. People are asked to keep their dogs on a leash.

Traffic signal at Hillview intersection?

Should the city of Menlo Park push to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Santa Cruz Avenue and Elder Avenue, near Hillview School?

That's what city management and the Transportation Commission are recommending to the City Council, which will weigh the issue at its meeting Tuesday, May 18. If the council approves the recommendation, the city would then negotiate with the Menlo Park City School District, in the hopes of working out a cost-sharing agreement.

A signal at the intersection would improve traffic flow during pickup and drop-off hours, and would prevent people from cutting through other streets in the neighborhood to avoid waiting in long lines, Transportation Engineer Rene Baile and Transportation Manager Chip Taylor wrote in a staff report.

The impetus for the project comes from the planned expansion of the Hillview campus, with the student population expected to increase by 43 percent by 2016.

The rebuild is scheduled to commence this summer, with completion slated for late 2012 or early 2013.


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