Park water facility back on Atherton agenda Wednesday


Atherton's City Council meets Wednesday, May 16, with an agenda full of items that the council has seen before, including the water capture facility the town is considering installing in Holbrook-Palmer Park.

City Manager George Rodericks said the council will receive a report on the results of testing of the quality of the runoff water that would be filtered through the facility, as well as an update on negotiations with Caltrans that could put off the deadline for the council to make a final decision on the facility.

Caltrans has offered to pay the entire $13.6 million cost to build an underground water capture facility in Holbrook-Palmer Park. The town would be responsible only for future maintenance costs of the huge underground vaults and their equipment, designed to remove pollutants and trash from runoff headed toward the Bay and ease flooding dangers.

But nearby residents say they fear the project would damage the park and question whether Atherton's runoff water is really that dirty to start with. Residents also questioned how much flood protection the project would offer.

The council is also scheduled to hear about options that could be considered to offer Atherton police officers and dispatchers a place to sleep between consecutive 12-hour shifts, so they don't have to make long commutes that leave too few hours for sleep.

The council is also scheduled to consider amending its heritage tree ordinance.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

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2 people like this
Posted by Sandy Crittenden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 15, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Sandy Crittenden is a registered user.

The Town of Atherton is on a single-minded course to build a nearly 9 acre-feet storm water capture facility in our jewel of Atherton - Holbrook-Palmer Park. Caltrans is offering $13.6M to the Town to fulfill a Caltrans "requirement" to remove toxins from the rainwater that flows to the bay. This project aims to remove mercury and PCB's from the runoff as well as reduce possible flooding along Watkins Ave. and Marsh Road.
While this goal may be a commendable, environmental "green" proposal, the project has far too many potential negative consequences to be allowed to proceed.
This proposal is an inadequate solution looking for a problem.
The quantity of toxins from Atherton and the surrounding area are minuscule. Compared to other Peninsula cities, Atherton runoff is one of the cleanest.

The flood control will likely be unnecessary or inadequate in most circumstances. A seven year flood would not need this project, yet a ten year flood would overwhelm the relatively small water capture capability.

The estimated $70k annual expense is drastically understated. Omitted is the 24/7 on-call staff needed to operate the water gates and pumps.

The overly optimistic 14 month construction estimate will be burdensome for Park users and neighbors. These "improvements" will forever change the natural beauty and tranquility of the Park.

There are but a few of the issues and foreseeable problems. Many other options exist.

The adverse effects of this project significantly outweigh any minimal benefits it offers.

I still have concerns with the Tetra Tech report upgrading Watkins Ave from Tier 4, minor street flooding to Tier 1, significant life and safety issues. There is no rational explanation considering their historical data comes from the same source. We read in the news dishonest dealings from the Tetra Tech at the Hunters Point environmental cleanup. It doesn’t add up.
Finally, I want to comment on a prior council member’s statement at last month’s meeting that said
You can increase, at will, the charges to the other agencies for maintaining the drainage channel. This is a very inaccurate statement as the rate is constitutionally set under proposition 13 and can’t be changed. The town will solely be responsible for the annual maintenance of this storm water project unless others voluntarily contribute.

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