The forces of a plastic modernity were politely shown the door Wednesday night (May 10) in Portola Valley. After more than two hours of testimony by residents for and against an artificial grass soccer field at the Woodside Priory School, a slim majority on the Town Council told Priory officials that they must use real grass.
Aside from one instance of raucous clapping by a couple of artificial grass advocates, the two sides argued respectfully and passionately, clearly articulating their points.
The 3-2 vote overturns a March 20 decision by the Planning Commission to allow an artificial surface. The council chose to review the commission's decision in April after a public outcry by those who opposed a step they viewed as inconsistent with the town's environmentally conscious vision of itself. In the majority were Mayor John Richards and council members Maryann Derwin and Jeff Aalfs, with members Ann Wengert and Ted Driscoll dissenting.
Priory Head of School Tim Molak was gracious in defeat. "The Priory is so happy to be in this community and this is a great place," he said, standing with his colleagues in the parking lot of the Historic Schoolhouse and holding a milk crate of presentation materials. "We won on one end and we lost on the other, and we'll move forward."
Mr. Molak said the school may ask the staff of the San Francisco 49ers about options for a real-grass field.
Jon Silver, a spokesman and point man for the real-grass side, said he was exhausted but satisfied. "I'm glad for the community. I think it'll be a watershed moment for this town," he said, adding that the campaign to overturn the Planning Commission's decision has probably taken 10 years off his life.