Almanac

News - November 2, 2011

City eyes eight potential sites for water well

by Sandy Brundage

The Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club's dream for one public well to water its private golf course now has eight chances to come true — Menlo Park has announced that the city is considering eight potential well sites, with six in Nealon Park and two in Jack Lyle Park.

A community meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3, will give residents an opportunity to help the city select one site — or no site, if you're one of the residents fighting the proposal. "It doesn't hold water," said Elizabeth Houck of the city's claim that the well would benefit the public.

According to city staff, the club would pay construction costs for the well and pipeline, and also reimburse the city for annual operation and maintenance. Menlo Park would be able to use the well water for Nealon Park, Jack Lyle Park, Sharon Park, and La Entrada School, with staff estimating that it would save the city $68,000 per year on park irrigation.

"Can you take up open space and park land for a public-private venture when there is no compelling public benefit?" Ms. Houck asked. "Public benefit has to be one of the reasons you do a project like this. It's not saving a ton of money. It's still adulterating our park space and it still doesn't conserve a gallon of water."

She is one of the residents who hired environmental attorney Craig Breon to scrutinize the plan. The attorney is still waiting for the city to provide all the project documents he requested under the public records act on Oct. 11.

"Meanwhile, as you have seen, they have clarified the process to some extent," he said. "We now know that they plan on going through the (California Environmental Quality Act review) process, though we do not know how thorough a document they intend to pursue.

"I think the city has realized that there are some legitimate concerns with the proposal, and they've wisely decided to take more time and to give more solid information to the residents," he added. "Good news, but some considerable work to go."

The community meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center at 700 Alma St.

After getting feedback, the city staff said they plan to present the project to the Parks and Recreation Commission in December, and to the City Council at the beginning of next year.

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