This recent Town COWncil meeting covered a lot of ground, and all members of the Town COWncil were present to get through the agenda. The meeting began on a sad note, with the COWncil noting the passing of noted Town residents Shirley Temple Black and Gaylynne Mann, a longtime active Town volunteer who was past President of CERPP.
Next, the COWncil heard from Lawrence G. Buckley, the President of Cañada College. The College is located in Woodside and in Redwood City. He introduced himself to the COWncil and talked about all the good work being done at the College and the changes that have happened over the past decade. Cañada now boasts more than 7,000 students and is becoming much more of a STEM institution, with a stronger engineering focus than in past years. He noted that the College does not draw as many students from Woodside as it did in the past, and stressed his desire to integrate Cañada more into our cow-munity. He stated that he’s been speaking recently to Town officials and that the College will be working in tandem with the Town’s Art & Culture Committee to put on cultural events. The COWncil thanked Mr. Buckley for coming, with COWncil member Gordon noting specifically the good work the College is doing for returning veterans.
Following Mr. Buckley’s remarks, the COWncil voted on Planning Commission representatives for Districts 3 and 4. Adolph Rosekrans was returned to District 4, and Grant Huberty, who is a resident of District 5, was chosen again to represent District 3 (as there was no candidate from District 3). Frank Rosenblum, who has become somewhat of a perennial candidate for Town positions, was thanked strongly for his interest and encouraged to keep applying.
After adopting the consent calendar, the Town moved to discussing the slow-moving Town Center Area Plan. The Town will be hosting two community meetings this spring to get input on what projects should be included in the revamping of Town Center’s circulation and parking, and to try to avoid the angry public outcry that resulted last year when rumors of parking garages and other extreme “solutions” to the Town’s parking issues were raised. After some feedback from the COWncil, the meetings were set for April 26th and May 10th from 10 am – 2 pm. The meetings will feature walking tours and presentations of proposed projects and opportunities for public input. If you want your feedback included in this important process, you should plan on attending.
The COWncil’s attention then turned to the creation of an “Emergency Preparedness Committee”, to be separate from the Town’s Public Safety Committee. According to Town Manager Kevin Bryant, the Public Safety Committee is “essentially dormant”, and in any case mostly focuses on police and fire services. The new committee would be focused on preparing for natural hazards and on dealing with them when they occur, with committee members being possible additions to Town command staff in an Emergency Operations Center. COWncil member Shanahan questioned why the Public Safety Committee continues to exist, and there was some talk about possibly merging the two Committees in the future. Mayor Burrow stressed that he didn’t want to eliminate or change any standing Committee without their input, saying it was demoralizing to Town volunteers. With that, the Town COWncil approved the creation of another new Committee.
The charter for the new group can be found here, although additional language about the group’s mission and scope was included during the meeting. If you’re interested in serving on the Emergency Preparedness Committee, you should contact Town staff.
Finally, the Town took up some modifications to the Defensible Space Matching Fund. The program, which provides up to $1,000 in matching funds to Town residents who clear space around their homes as a fire prevention measure, was tweaked to make it more useful to Town residents. The new language will allow the Town to pay up to $2,000 in matching funds for approved work, and include clearer language in the application packet to help residents understand what work is necessary and unnecessary to get matching funds. We think this is a great change! With the ever-present fire danger in our Town, any measures to make the Town safer are definitely appreciated. The meeting wrapped up shortly after the COWncil voted unanimously to the Matching Fund changes.