News - April 27, 2011

Spring Down meadow to remain open space

by Dave Boyce

There are changes ahead for the six-acre grass meadow and pond that sits along the southern side of the Portola Valley Town Center, but the changes will be modest.

On April 13, the Town Council reached a consensus — Mayor Ted Driscoll was absent — to accept recommendations of the 21-person Ad-Hoc Spring Down Master Plan Committee, a group of residents and town officials who met four times in 2010 to discuss the future of the meadow, which was already designated as open space.

The discussion was not without argument. There were proposals for a skate park or space for a pick-up baseball game, but that remained a minority view, according to a staff report.

"It very much emerged that a consensus wanted to keep it in an open state (though the minority's views) were definitely considered," committee liaison and Councilwoman Ann Wengert said in response to questions from Councilman Steve Toben.

For Phase 1, the report recommended a perimeter trail, a "rustic" perimeter fence and some changes to vegetation at a cost of about $30,000, Public Works Director Howard Young told the council. The trail-building will begin before July 1, he said. A bench or two is not out of the question.

The 2010-11 budget allocated $75,000 for the project, Mr. Young said. With Phase 2 expected to cost $79,000, additional money could be set aside in the coming budget year, he said.

Phase 2 involves hiring a biologist to look for endangered species. If none are found, the town would then hire a hydrologist to change the eight-foot-deep, manmade, oxygen-starved, debris-strewn and possibly dangerous pond into something natural, seasonal, shallower and perhaps welcoming to amphibians and insects.

"The pond could be the crown jewel," said committee member Gary Nielsen.

As is true now, the water would be deoxygenated, having nowhere to go, but animals could use it, it wouldn't be more than a couple of feet deep and it would dry out in the summer, Mr. Young said in an interview.

"We don't believe we're going to find endangered species there," he added. "We're pretty sure of that." Such a finding would complicate matters and add about $20,000 to the cost, Mr. Young said. The town would have to engage the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers, and the council would have to weigh the extra time and expense of getting permits.


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields