Park advocates: Council barking up wrong tree

Bedwell Bayfront Park grant application moves forward

A plan to plant 1,000 trees in Bedwell Bayfront Park to reduce carbon dioxide has stirred concern among the park's advocates.

The Menlo Park City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday (Jan.25), with Kirsten Keith and Andy Cohen dissenting, to proceed with a state grant application for $350,000 to cover the costs of planting the trees and maintaining them for two years.

"What happens after two years?" Ms. Keith asked. She also noted that no one from the community spoke in favor of the project during the Jan. 25 meeting.

Several members of the Friends of Bedwell Bayfront Park spoke against the plan, wondering why community members weren't consulted, and why the city declined to first conduct an environmental impact review (EIR).

Alan Bedwell, son of former city manager Mike Bedwll, for whom the park is named, described the warning signs he saw of potential problems. "Lack of knowledge of the depth of soil, the Environmental Quality Commission failing to fully endorse this, the lack of an EIR."

He offered the group's services to help the city find alternate ways to improve the former landfill that would still preserve its open-space character and wildlife habitat.

Rebecca Fotu, environmental programs manager, explained that the application's February deadline didn't leave enough time for an EIR. She also pointed out adjustments already made to the plan in response to public concerns, such as hiring an expert to measure soil depth to see whether trees could be planted without the risk of roots penetrating the landfill cap.

Voting to approve the application, council members Rich Cline and Kelly Fergusson urged the city to tap community expertise going forward to ensure the park's welfare. So did Peter Ohtaki, who said he'd support applying now in case the state funds weren't available next year.

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Posted by citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Wonders never cease ! Nothing more important going on ! Will the state actually give MP the money, or will it be in IOU's ? I didn't
realize all of the states money problems were solved. Give that $350K to education or health care ! Forget useless spending !!

Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Citizen - I could not agree more. Furthermore, I watched the discussion and presentation at the CC meeting last night. Not only did people who are passionate about the park speak out against this proposal, they made great points why it is quite likely that, absent a full EIR, the plan, if funded by the state will actually do harm to the park and its furry/feathered inhabitants. These were people who really care about the park; and their concerns were ignored. As a taxpayer in the State of California I find it totally unacceptable that a City would press to put together a $350K grant proposal "just because the money is there" and to do so without proper study, "in case the money gets spent on something else (more important". I plan on finding out where within the State this grant application goes for review and to write to whomever to urge it be rejected. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Again, citizens have not been informed. I believe when we are not notified about meetins, etc,, it is on purpose.

I believe that the Council has been talking about being (more) transparent. Hmm??

Like this comment
Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

What a fiasco, and waste of money.

Another one of our City's staff's lousy decisions. How much more are the Menlo Park voters supposed to endure. Spending $7500 for Lemieux's project, killing off all the squirrels in Bay Front Park. We really need to clean house at the staff level.

Note the the downtown / El Camino plan getting to be a year late and hundreds of thousand over cost and is a fiasco.

Tomorrow's meeting on setting up budget goals, what council person will step up to the plate?

Rojas should be shown the exit.

Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Thousand of dollars over cost is a lie or you just forgot, old...timer...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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