Wednesday: Meeting on Atherton water-capture facility

This graphic shows in the upper left where Atherton might place a water capture facility that will help prevent flooding and clean pollutants from water before it reaches the Bay. (Courtesy town of Atherton)

A public presentation about the water-capture facility Atherton wants to build in Holbrook-Palmer Park is scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, at the Jennings Pavilion in the park, 150 Watkins Ave., at 6:30 p.m.

The presentation will come at the beginning of the monthly meeting of the Park & Recreation Committee.

The $13.6 million grant-funded project will capture runoff water on its way to the Bay to prevent flooding and remove pollutants. The town says construction is scheduled to start in July 2019, and last about 14 months. The project will generate noise, dust, construction traffic and temporary road closures, town officials warn.

While design is still being developed, the facility is now proposed to go under the park's soccer/lacrosse field.

The town's website has more information, including a video showing construction of a similar facility.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 7, 2018 at 9:35 am

Is this really the best option? Tear up the the park and put a toxic wastewater facility where our kids play? It will capture all the chemicals and toxins where kids play soccer and Frisbee, this sounds like a bad idea.

I think there are better options to solve this problem. Why has the the Town of Atherton been so quite about this huge project?

8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Actually the Town turned down a far better option:
"therton's City Council voted Aug. 1 to drop plans to install an underground drainage facility at Las Lomitas School and instead to explore putting the equipment — meant to filter runoff heading to the San Francisco Bay and help control flooding — underground at Holbrook-Palmer Park.
The town was unable to come to an agreement with the Las Lomitas Elementary School District, although district officials said they had spent two years trying to find a way to make the project work.

The town had planned to take advantage of a district construction project to put the drainage basin under school property.

$13.6 million grant

Atherton has been offered a $13.6 million Caltrans-administered grant that would pay the total costs of designing and installing a facility that, in addition to providing flood prevention, would filter contaminants from water before releasing it to flow to the Bay.

But town officials have worried that the town won't be able to afford to pay the annual maintenance costs of the facility."

And now the Town still does not know what will be the annual maintenance costs will be and the Town will also have to disrupt the park to install this facility - go figure!

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 9:14 am

Thanks Peter, I hope the town gets the message that this project makes no sense and there are lots of options besides tearing the park up for 2 years.

I attended the meeting last night and surprised to hear how far along this huge infrastructure project is in the planning process. Most of the attendees were vocally against it. First for how disruptive the construction will be tearing the park up and having a huge construction site for 2 years and second with environmental concerns around why we are putting a waste water facility in the park in the first place. It sounded like it was a done deal, but I guess the Council still has to vote to move forward.

The speakers at the meeting described how we have to do this or we might be sued despite Atherton being a relatively low polluter vs other bay area cities. Everything about the project seemed like a consultant driven process where they see Caltrans funding, propose a huge project to remedy a fairly simple problem and have no regard for the community or the ongoing costs to run this facility.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 8, 2018 at 9:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just imagine how much easier and quicker this would have been had the Town Council accepted the Los Lomitas offer.

3 people like this
Posted by Troubled
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 8, 2018 at 10:18 am

I have a different perspective.

The District attempted to get the Town to approve a traffic signal installation at Walsh Road as part of the deal. The Town Council was smart enough to say no, sorry. That needs a public process, resident engagement and feedback. We cannot approve it outright. And indeed, attending the outreach meeting on Tuesday night revealed a significant amount of opposition from residents.

Just like the Caltrain pole issue. Caltrain wanted the Town to not only assume broad liability but also indemnify Caltrain for any and everything related to the project going through Town. AND wanted the Town to get a blanket waiver of legal rights from residents along the corridor. Town Council said thanks but no thanks to opening up the Town coffers to such risk and certainly would not and could force residents to waive their legal rights.

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 8, 2018 at 10:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the 1 Aug minutes:

".. having a water capture facility at the park would give the Town more control."

So in order to have MORE CONTROL the Council is willing to disrupt the park for almost two years, potentially add the cost of an new access bridge and still incur the same maintenance costs that it would have had if this facility had been built at Los Lomitas!

All of this for MORE CONTROL?

This is the same Council that wants to CONTROL Caltrain, CONTROL the Library JPA and CONTROL the Fire District.

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 8, 2018 at 12:55 pm

It does seem like there are options but I am not sure the town is really focused on them. Everything seems to be moving towards ripping up the park. The timeline is fast and I am pretty sure many of the residents have no awareness of what is being planned in our Town park.

Some ideas voiced last night,

1) Less disruptive, risky locations. Under the new town center parking lot, menlo collage field?, re-purpose part of the existing channel for flood control.

2) Several smaller locations around the city or more water absorption zones.

3) Do nothing and buy into another towns treatment facility.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 8, 2018 at 10:56 pm

Why isn’t this proposal and the opposition to it getting more coverage? This project seems like an awful big deal to me, as someone who uses the park frequently. It sure was a big deal to those well prepared residents (of all ages) that turned up at the meeting last night. There was a clear consensus that this seems to be rushed along quietly, it is not well thought out in many areas but especially in terms of long term costs and maintenance, it has the potential to devestate our park on an environmental level, the other proposed sites were a total joke, and most importantly people do not want it at the park! This story needs more attention. I only heard about this proposal from a flier on my doorstep- a flier that articulately opposes such construction. Please Almanac continue to feature this story. This is free land being exploited to benefit Caltrain’s environmental footprint.

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