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Tonight: Woodside weighs next steps for Town Center plan

 

What qualifications should the town of Woodside require of a professional facilitator who would conduct community meetings early in 2014 about the future of the Town Center, with particular attention to buildings and structures, landscaping, signs, lighting, land use and traffic circulation?

The Town Council will meet to address this question tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 29) in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

"It is critical that the facilitator selected be familiar with the culture and history of Woodside, and its deeply-rooted desire to remain a rural residential community," Planning Director Jackie Young says in a staff report. The town used a facilitator to guide a community task force in updating the general plan, a year-long community effort generally regarded as a success.

The task force working on the Town Center plan held several wide-ranging brainstorming sessions in the spring. The topics of greatest concern were parking and traffic circulation, the report says. Other ideas included public restrooms, water fountains, receptacles for recycling, parking for bicycles, burying utility lines that are now overhead, and possibly amending voter-approved restrictions on Town Center development (Measures J and 1) to allow additional uses, perhaps more parking and a farmers' market.

At a May 28, 2013, council meeting, many residents vigorously reminded the council of the important role of Measure J in maintaining Woodside's character. In response, council members repeatedly noted that ideas from brainstorming sessions are just ideas, not plans, that interesting and creative concepts sometimes emerge as a result of considering ideas that are not practical or workable.

Go to this link to view the entire staff report, including detailed minutes from earlier council meetings.

The discussion on amending Measure J had gathered momentum in the context of a new Sunday farmers' market that had found a temporary home in the parking lot of Woodside Elementary School.

That location, while convenient for traffic on Woodside Road, is not town-owned property and thus makes the popular market vulnerable to dislocation. Ideas for a permanent home for a market included the parking lot area near Town Hall -- a proposal that would have required amending Measure J, the town attorney said, and a proposal since discarded.

The school board "invited the market back for the 2014 season" on Oct. 14, according to the staff report.

In July, the council authorized traffic and parking counts. The traffic counts held in September on Woodside, Portola, Canada and Whiskey Hill roads showed a 6.5 percent increase over a study done at these same locations in September 2010, the staff report says.

The results of the parking study will be available in December. Because there is a council election in November, the council is not expected to meet until after the election has been certified, which generally happens around the end of November.

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