Menlo Fire Artificial Turf
Original post made by CuriousKat, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks, on Aug 17, 2014
Please add me to the list of people that don't merit a response. Indeed, I would be pleased if you didn't respond to this posting.
The Menlo Park Fire District replaced the natural lawn at all 6 of its stations with artificial turf. You did too and chose to call attention to your decision in an Almanac article. I couldn't help but be interested in the the nexus between your choice and the Fire Department's, of which you are an elected Director.
You have gone on record and said you did not use the same company. Thank you. This dispels my primary concern that you might have somehow financially benefitted from the arrangement. You didn't. Great!
But, the publicity you have brought does place the Menlo Fire Chief and Board in focus. You suggest that the payback period is very long and that you hope, at best, to break even at the end of 15 years. Assuming the Fire District did a similar cost benefit analysis, it is reasonable to call into question whether their decision was a good choice for the taxpayers.
I believe dry spells will happen from time to time. Certainly, within 15 years (perhaps within 1 year), I anticipate the situation will be corrected and that we will have abundant water. I, thus, call into question at least one of the assumptions that lead to this capital investment.
That the Chief was empowered to spend these funds within his delegated authority also leads me to question whether the Board has proper controls in place. I trust that it cost well in excess of $100,000 across 6 stations. As someone who funds this district, I would like to know more. Much more.
The Menlo Fire website, supposedly the model of transparency, offers very little information on the topic other than the Chief's announcement that he's replacing the grass with turf. There is no financial information. How much did the District pay its supplier?
Other than the Chief's report, there was only a report on KTVU:
It seems this choice was made out of a perceived political correctness of not wasting water and not with an economic justification. If you choose to spend your money this way, so be it. It is yours to waste. But, taxpayer dollars should not be subject to political whim.