News - November 9, 2011

Menlo Park residents question city's plan to drill well

by Barbara Wood

Menlo Park residents invited to give the city feedback on their preferred spot for an irrigation well requested by the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club had little to say about the location, but lots of questions about the project during a community meeting Nov. 3.

The club has offered to pay for drilling the well and installing a pipeline so they will have plenty of water for the golf course. According to city staff, Menlo Park could save as much as $68,000 a year by using the well water to irrigate Nealon Park, Jack Lyle Park and Sharon Park, plus another $13,000 by not paying wholesale for the water now used by the country club. It would also allow more than 60 million gallons of drinking water that now keeps landscaping alive to be used for other purposes.

But neighbors who live near the two parks see it differently and expressed those views during the meeting at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center in the Menlo Park Civic Center.

Two sites proposed for the well were criticized as being too close to homes, so the city returned with six other sites farther away. The amount of space needed for the well would be between 10- by-15-feet and 10-by-30-feet, according to Matt Oscamou, Menlo Park's interim engineering services manager. It would be surrounded by landscaping and the pump would be located nearly 600 feet underground.

At the meeting, Mr. Oscamou offered to take off the table the two potential sites in Nealon Park that are nearest to homes.

Residents at the meeting questioned whether the project really had much public benefit, as 60 million gallons of water would go to the country club and only about 8 million gallons would be used by the city.

Mr. Oscamou said the city has promised to try to find ways to use local water resources such as groundwater or recycled water. The proposed pipeline could be designed so that if a source of recycled water became available in the future, homeowners could tap into the pipeline and use the water for their own landscaping, he said.

Some of those at the meeting asked why all the proposed well sites are in parks. Mr. Oscamou said that the city looked at other properties, but none had both available underground water and access where the water could easily be used for the city's irrigation.

Many of the neighbors' questions don't yet have answers because it is too early in the process, Mr. Oscamou said. Putting the well in a city park would first have to be approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission and then the City Council. Once given the go-ahead by the council, the city would negotiate with the country club, design the project and undertake any required environmental review.

That review would address issues such as noise and traffic caused by the construction process and any noise associated with the well.

A group of residents has hired environmental attorney Craig Breon to scrutinize the plan and request documents under the public records act.


Posted by Allied Arts and Parks user , a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm

As a property owners in Menlo Park for almost 30 year we are astounded
that the city, the council and other factions would consider this measure with out first opening the decision to the TAXPAYERS of the city & their constituents!!!!
Putting the interests of the private Exclusive Sharon Heights Country Club before the consideration of residential property owners has many fuming. 68 million Gallons should go to the residents and the city. With zero going to Sharon Heights CC. Why is it that the city of Palo Alto sites prioritizes their similar water reserve construction asSafety in the event of a water main break, earthquake, it's residents and city emergency crews as the primary rational for its decision. Menlos is for CC Golf Course watering which in ter with their fertilizing returns highly altered water into our water table?

Maybe it is time for some community action and involvement.

Posted by Central Menlo, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2011 at 6:32 am

I am curious what the City Council and staff have calculated as the cost savings to the city, residents and community, by drilling a well and diverting 100% of the well water for community benefit (watering parks, purifying for drinking, etc.).

Expect that the cost savings would be particular when the specific cost of avoiding 4 miles of pipeline are considered (plus the visual benefit by avoiding 4 miles of paved trenchline in our streets).

Does anyone have a link or copy of this report?

Which city staff members are responsible for this project (for that matter, which city council members asked that the project be studied)?

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