http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/02/29/menlo-park-plans-third-outreach-meeting-on-well-for-golf-course


Almanac

News - February 29, 2012

Menlo Park plans third outreach meeting on well for golf course

by Sandy Brundage

It'll take a little while longer before the Menlo Park City Council gets a chance to decide whether to pursue a partnership with the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club to build a well to draw water from a public aquifer to irrigate the private golf course and potentially four public facilities.

The club, which has offered to pay for construction of the well, currently uses more than 60 million gallons of potable water per year, purchased from the Menlo Park Municipal Water District. The district in turn pulls its supply from the Hetch Hetchy, according to the club and city.

Using the well to irrigate Nealon, Jack Lyle, and Sharon Parks, along with La Entrada School, would decrease the city's demand for Hetch Hetchy water by an additional 13 million gallons a year.

City staff announced on Feb. 23 that a third community outreach meeting will take place this spring to take a closer look at Jack Lyle Park as a potential well site.

Nealon Park, zoned as an open space conservation district, was the preferred site, but according to a statement released by the city, feedback from the community and two commissions indicate Jack Lyle Park, zoned as a public facilities district, may be a better choice.

The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4-2 in December to support further consideration of the well, "with significant reservations." It asked for another site possibility besides Nealon and Jack Lyle parks and that the commission take another look after an environmental impact report is released.

The Environmental Quality Commission unanimously recommended on Feb. 3 that the council not pursue any specific proposals regarding ground water use, including cost, siting, and other considerations, until developing a city gray water plan and clarifying long-term ground water rights with the county.

As for this specific well, the commission also recommended finding land that's not zoned as open space — a key issue raised by residents as well.

Several commissioners favored innovative public-private partnerships, but expressed concern about the nature of this specific proposal.

"One concern is that the use of the resource, a country club, is not open to the public. By contrast, transit shuttles provided via public-private partnership are open to the public," said Commissioner Adina Levin. "I also expressed concern with the fairness and public perception at offering public resources at a discounted price to a country club, at the same time that the city was contemplating reduction of services to low-income residents with the dissolution of the (redevelopment agency)."

Public Works Director Chip Taylor said it's important to note that the project is not yet at a decision point. "We don't have to make a decision right now; we can take the time to talk about it."

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