Almanac

Viewpoint - March 6, 2013

Letter: Opposes artificial turf at Woodside Priory

There is an item on the agenda for the Portola Valley Planning Commission for Wednesday, March 6, which is rightfully of town concern. This is whether or not to approve installation of 2.39 acres of artificial turf (plastic grass blades with plastic pellet and sand infill) at the Priory for a playing field.

On Jan. 14, the town's Architectural and Site Control Commission expressed its views on the proposal. At that meeting, Commissioner Jeff Clark said that the Planning Commission would need to see an accurate sample of the actual material proposed to make a decision.

This is important. To my knowledge this has not been provided by the installer. Even the 1-foot-square sample shown by a company representative at the Architectural Site and Control Commission on Jan.14 wasn't exactly what is being proposed, let alone that it was not being seen in full sunlight or in a large enough swatch so any kind of intelligent decision can be made about the on-site appearance. And remember, 2.39 acres would be a lot of plastic.

Other ASCC members expressed thoughtful and more basic concerns. Chief among these whether so much artificial turf belongs in our town along Portola Road, the scenic corridor which, as Commissioner Danna Breen said, "defines the town." She said, "Portola Road is the heart of the town." Commissioner Megan Koch said she wanted to see the corridor remain natural and that the ASCC's job is to "preserve the natural environment." The town's General Plan, as Commission chair Craig Hughes said, repeatedly calls for maintaining as much nature as possible.

The proposal has evolved along the course of the hearings. Whether to remove a number of trees along Portola Road to honor the scenic corridor? Or leave trees to provide necessary shade to students if the plastic grass gets too hot. And on and on.

My view? I'll support the town's General Plan and vote for nature.

Bev Lipman, Favonio Road, Portola Valley

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