Almanac

News - April 2, 2014

Menlo Park briefs: Caltrain electrification meeting April 2

Need some light reading? The draft environmental impact report for Caltrain's electrification project is now available, and might come in handy for a community meeting about the findings on Wednesday, April 2.

The transit agency is backing a $1.5 billion plan to switch from diesel to electrified trains to benefit both the environment and Caltrain's financial state, as well as provide the capacity to share the tracks with high-speed rail. According to the draft EIR, however, that comes with some drawbacks, such as the elimination of thousands of trees, and the construction of safety walls, substations and 50-foot tall poles to carry power along the tracks.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Redwood City Library located at 1044 Middlefield Road.

Thursday: Willow Road apartment renovations meeting

The Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition, which plans to build a 78-unit apartment complex with affordable housing in the 1200 block of Willow Road, will hold a community meeting on Thursday, April 3, to talk about the design, purpose and impact of the project.

The coalition has applied for a portion of $3.2 million that Menlo Park has made available to encourage construction of below-market-rate housing, according to staff.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Menlo Park Senior Center at 100 Terminal Ave.

Fine arts festival

The annual sidewalk fine arts festival returns to Menlo Park from April 11 through 13. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the event will exhibit works by 90 artists, displayed along Santa Cruz Avenue.

This year's featured artists include sculptor Chris Efstratis and photographer Barbara Lee.

The free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Search and rescue team deploys to Alaska

With Washington state's search and rescue teams busy with the aftermath of a deadly mudslide, a large-scale disaster exercise in nearby Alaska found itself short on participants.

The exercise, Operation Shield, had been in the works for two years. But members of California Task Force 3, sponsored by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, got only a few hours' notice that they were being asked to fill in, according to Chief Harold Schapelhouman. The last-minute scramble was nothing new for a team that saw deployment after the Oklahoma City bombing and Hurricane Katrina.

"Essentially, our folks are in their comfort zone of controlled chaos — right where we want them to be in preparation for a real emergency," Chief Schapelhouman said in a press release. He described the invitation as "an incredible honor for our team."

Seventy-two team members flew to Alaska at 3 a.m. on Thursday, March 27, to join the Anchorage Fire Department and National Guard over the following 24 hours in an exercise involving a debris pile simulating a structure collapsed by an earthquake. They then returned home on Saturday night.

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