In preparation for the upcoming November 20 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting at which $10.4 million is expected to be allocated to recreational trail projects, county staff have declared 5 out of 15 projects that applied for the funds as ineligible, including two submitted by Palo Alto, two submitted by Portola Valley, and one submitted by Menlo Park.
According the 2000 Stanford University Community Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the funds were provided to mitigate the loss of recreational facilities for existing or new campus residents and facility users due to Stanford University’s expansion, which included 2 million square feet of new academic buildings and over 3,000 units of housing.
Six agencies (Stanford University, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, and Portola Valley) submitted 15 projects totaling $16.0 million in requested funds. Five of these projects were determined by County staff to be ineligible for funding because they wouldn’t create new recreational facilities or expand the recreational uses of existing facilities. These five projects would only maintain or improve existing facilities, and therefore would not mitigate the loss of recreational facilities due to Stanford University’s expansion. The five rejected projects were:
- Sand Hill Road Pathway, Menlo Park
- Park Blvd Bicycle Boulevard, Palo Alto
- Arastradero C2 Trail Upgrade, Palo Alto
- Ford Field Renovation/Expansion, Portola Valley
- Triangle Park Expansion, Portola Valley
In addition, the Alpine Pond Trail and Boardwalk project, submitted by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, was declared to be partially qualified ($390,000 of the $490,000 requested were deemed to be new recreational facilities).
Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos explained why these projects do not qualify in the November 20 staff report:
The means by which recreational opportunities are created is by establishing new recreational facilities or expanding existing recreational facilities such that they create new recreational uses or a new facility that previously did not exist…
Establishing a new recreational facility… is readily understood as creating a new recreational asset when none previously existed… it is not sufficient – as has been posited by some applicants – that the improvements make an existing facility more attractive for more people to use.
The removal of these five projects from consideration frees up $1.5 million in requested funds, leaving the Board of Supervisors to decide how to allocate $10.4 million in available funds between 10 projects totaling $14.5 million in requested funds.
However, county staff failed to include the Stanford Perimeter Trail as one of the projects that should only be eligible for partial funding because it includes existing recreational facilities (paved trails), the widening of which would not provide new recreational uses.
For this reason, partial funding of the Stanford Perimeter Trail was recommended in a letter sent by the Committee for Green Foothills:
We recommend funding the Stanford Perimeter trail at 25% of the funding requested ($1.1 million), because approximately 75% of the length of the Stanford Perimeter trail consists of widening or altering already-existing trails. In particular, almost the entire length of Stanford Avenue contains not only an excellent off-road trail, but Class II bicycle lanes on both sides.
The Committee for Green Foothills recommended 9 of the 10 eligible projects for full or partial funding, and wrote that funding the Ravenswood Bay Trail (Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District) and Adobe Creek/Highway 101 Bridge (Palo Alto) projects should be the Board of Supervisors’ top priority.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will review the project proposals at their next meeting, on Tuesday, November 20, at 9:30 am. The meeting will take place at the County Government Center, 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose. Members of the public may voice their support for projects with a two-minute comment at the meeting.
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Mike Wasserman: email@example.com, 408-299-5010
George Shirakawa: firstname.lastname@example.org, 408-299-5020
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