News - December 15, 2010

Portola Valley baseball field redesign drawings can proceed

by Dave Boyce

To rehabilitate Ford (baseball) Field with a new backstop, public restrooms, perhaps a paved parking lot and other such improvements, the town of Portola Valley has been considering a proposal that would cost about $300,000, a large part of which would be reimbursed by the state.

The first step — design drawings — can go ahead, the Town Council said by consensus on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

It's been a long time coming. Around about 2004, the town applied for and won two state grants that would reimburse about $230,000 (in current dollars) to rehab this Little League field at the corner of Alpine Road and Westridge Drive.

If contracts had been let and construction begun, work might have been completed ahead of the grants' expiration date of June 30, 2011. But the state has offered the money and then reneged so many times that it's always seemed ill advised to proceed, Assistant Town Manager Janet McDougall told The Almanac.

Given the approaching expiration, state officials have said the money will remain available if applicants ask for extensions, Ms. McDougall said. Portola Valley will request one and will likely get it, she said, but whether the town risks spending on more than design drawings is an open question.

"In an abundance of caution, staff contacted the state and requested a letter or other documentation indicating that the (availability of) funds had indeed been extended," Ms. McDougall said in a staff report. "We have now been advised that no such assurance can be provided."

"It is clear," Ms. McDougall added, "that with the state's budget woes the reliability of this funding is questionable, at best."

By consensus, the council agreed to ask the state for an extension on the grant money and to solicit bids for the preparation of construction drawings.

"We'll never get anywhere without a design," Ms. McDougall told The Almanac.


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