February 24, 2014

This meeting focused primarily on an update to Safe Routes to School and on the mid-year Budget Review, but touched on other important issues facing the Town. COWncil members Gordon and Romines were absent.

Before the meeting began, Millo Fenzi of the Circulation Committee spoke of a recent meeting organized by Town resident John Novitsky between a group of bicyclists and a group of equestrians on the subject of safe interactions between bicycle riders and horse riders, which apparently went very well. We applaud this cooperative effort in our Town. We all have to share the roads!

The COWncil approved the Consent Cow-lendar, including a resolution to urge all Woodside residents and businesses to reduce their water usage by twenty percent in light of California’s ongoing drought.

In Town Manager Kevin Bryant’s update on Safe Routes to School, he described the options that the Circulation Committee had prioritized from the laundry list of possible projects. A representative of Parisi Transportation Consulting described its proposal. The five top priority projects include improving the path on the south side of Woodside Road from Woodside Elementary School to Robert’s Market; to consider installing a marked crosswalk across Cañada Road at Glenwood; creating a raised and separated walkway on the north side of Woodside Road; add pedestrian warning signs and pavement marking near Mountain Home Road; and look into providing a pathway between the south side of Woodside Road and Cedar Lane through the Fire Station. The scope of work included seeking outside State grants for some of the work the Town wanted done.

The COWncil was at first a bit resistant, with COWncil member Tom Shanahan stating that the Town shouldn’t seek subsidies for the work to be done, insisting that Woodside as a wealthy cow-munity should foot the bill for any needed improvements itself, with Council member Dave Tanner and others pointing out that tax money flows from Woodside to the State and that this is a method of getting some of that money back. Mayor Dave Burow said that the point of the project shouldn’t be “start[ing] with the biggest pot,” or “trying to get the kitchen sink in,” but instead on finding the best project and that Woodside should pay for any projects decided on if the Town is unable to get any grants for the work.

The COWncil questioned why there weren’t cost estimates for the items in the proposal, with the representative from Parisi and Millo Fenzi explaining patiently that those costs simply were not known yet. Some improvements are likely to be pretty inexpensive while some of the others might cost a lot of money, but without doing the survey work of the areas, those numbers couldn’t be provided yet. That was within the scope of work that the COWncil was being asked to approve in Parisi contract. Parisi will do some basic costing and figure out if the Town is eligible for grants, but that approving the contract with Parisi would not lock the Town into accepting a grant, if the COWncil chose to not pursue one.

COWncil member Pete Mason and Millo Fenzi also emphasized the importance of an aesthetically pleasing project that was in character for the Town, while still moving as quickly as possible. There was also some pushback on the idea of a “sidewalk” alongside Woodside Road, so it will be interesting to see what the final proposed project will include to solve some of these vital circulation problems. The COWncil, with Tom voting no, approved hiring Parisi (for a sum not to exceed $32,520).

City Manager Bryant then moved on to the Budget Review and the Work Plan Review, noting that income is up over last year during this continuing economic recovery. He stated that “a number of large projects” are coming before the ASRB and the Planning Commission soon. This is part of the reason Town staff wanted to hire Parisi for the Safe Routes project. We are hearing complaints that Town staff are not able to keep up with the flood of building projects coming in over the desk. Kevin cautioned that if the Town wants to work on the other items on the Work Plan and in the General Plan, hiring these outside consultants is going to be necessary. The alternative is to hire more permanent Town employees.

As the meeting was wrapping up, the COWncil also discussed the need for modifying the Municipal Code to bring it in line with the General Plan that was adopted two years ago. There are still too many differences between the them. COWncil expressed dissatisfied with this state of affairs. It does seem that it is time for the Town’s laws to reflect the most recent General Plan!

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