Menlo Park officials wary of new pipeline 

The city spent $1.3 million to make Ivy Plaza a gathering place for residents and their kids and now wants assurances that a new emergency water pipeline won’t permanently damage that investment.

While city officials and residents agree that the pipeline is an essential part of the Peninsula’s disaster preparedness plan, they want the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to promise it will restore any sites damaged in the course of construction.

The water agency, which provides water for most of the Peninsula and parts of the East Bay as well as for San Francisco, plans to build a $4.3 billion backup pipeline to bring water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to the Peninsula in case of an earthquake or other serious disaster. Two and a half miles of pipe will be laid underground through Menlo Park, along Bay Road and Ivy Drive, and across major thoroughfares such as Marsh and Willow roads.

"The draft policy, as written, would allow the SFPUC to dig up public streets and sidewalks, ‘consider’ providing the city of Menlo Park with a minimal payment for the depreciated value of these public assets, and then walk away, leaving streets unpaved and sidewalks unusable," Mayor Kelly Ferguson wrote to the SFPUC in a letter dated Jan. 22.

It would cost Menlo Park millions to restore Ivy Plaza and roadways to their original condition, according to Public Works Director Kent Steffens, who will provide the City Council an update on the pipeline project tonight.

The SFPUC intends to maintain the aesthetic appearance of its right-of-way through Menlo Park and other cities affected by the pipeline construction, according to commission spokeswoman Maureen Barry.

Across San Mateo County, 290 residents will need to relocate sheds, pull down fences and uproot gardens to make way for the pipeline, which will run from the East Bay through East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City and up to Crystal Springs Reservoir.

The commission has held public workshops in San Francisco, San Mateo County and the East Bay on the pipeline project, slated for completion in 2014. Construction is scheduled to begin in Menlo Park in 2009, according to Steffens.

The Menlo Park City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 701 Laurel St.

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