County rethinking Stanford’s $8.4M gift 

A last-minute counteroffer by Stanford left county supervisors wavering over whether to walk away from a multimillion-dollar gift from the university to improve a county recreational trail.

The $8.4 million offer — recommended for rejection by a supervisors’ subcommittee at its Tuesday meeting — was instead tabled for two weeks in order to give county officials time to hammer out the particulars with Stanford. The original offer limited the county to spending the money exclusively on widening Alpine Trail to 16 feet, a plan opposed by more than a dozen local neighborhood and environmental groups, according to Supervisor Jerry Hill.

The counteroffer — details have not been finalized — would allow supervisors more discretion in spending the funds for Alpine Trail improvements, Supervisor Rich Gordon said.

Stanford’s gift for the 1.6-mile stretch of Alpine Trail will fulfill one of 107 conditions required by Santa Clara County to mitigate the university’s 5-million-square-foot development plan over the next 10 to 15 years. Santa Clara County agreed in 2005 to let Stanford offer the funds to the county for Alpine Trail, near the Santa Clara border. The trail runs from Menlo Park’s border with unincorporated San Mateo County through Portola Valley, along Alpine Road.

Neighbors opposed the original widening proposal, the "grand sidewalk" plan as they called it, and questioned its recreational value since it ran across numerous neighborhood entrances and driveways. Safety was also a major concern, said Walter Nelson, who lives near the trail.

An idea put forward Tuesday was to resurface the existing trail and make erosion repairs, while using the balance to pay for other trail improvements, Gordon said.

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