COWncil Roundup – September 14th, 2010

September 29, 2010

One week after their marathon session on the new General Plan, the COWncil (minus Mayor Burows) had a more typical session. Mayor Pro-tem Romines chaired the meeting. As always, you can see the meeting on Mootube.

After coming in from a closed session, regarding possible litigation, the COWncil went to communications. Bob Paige, Vice-Chair of the Town Bicycle Committee, thanked the COWncil for taking up the issue of the Woodside Road parking restrictions. He said that sort of issue might have been tempting to avoid, given the complexity of the issue, and he wanted to say ‘good job.’

COWncil member Kasten then reminded everyone of the Woodside Library’s upcoming renovation, and that the last day to submit comments on the design is September 21st. She noted that information on the design will be coming before the COWncil on the 28th. We wrote about that here.

The fourth special COWncil meeting to go over the General Plan(see here for last one)will be held on October 19th, 21st, or 27th. We should know by the next COWncil meeting what the actual date will be.

All items on the COWnsent calendar were passed without debate – the minutes of previous meetings, a resolution approving an updated Conflict of Interest code, the monthly financial reports for July and August, and the approval of a response to the San Mateo County Grand Jury Report Sex Offender Law Enforcement in San Mateo County.

The Conflict of Interest Code is required by State law, and lists disclosure requirements for “designated” employees and commission members, who “make or participate in the making of governmental decisions.” The list was amended to add the new positions of Building Official and Development Services Engineer to that list and delete the now-defunct position of Deputy Building Official.

The COWncil then moved on to considering a staff recommendation about the long-planned Town Hall solar roof project. Way back in December 2008, the COWncil approved a project to both reroof Town Hall and put solar panels on the roof. The solar part of the project was estimated to cost $100,000, even with an almost $30,000 incentive payment from the State of California. According to the agenda item report, the system would have only provided 15% to 20% of the building’s electrical usage and would have a 20 year payback time.

Soon after it was approved, the project was delayed by the COWncil due to the poor economic conditions, but they kept earmarking funds for the project. They had hoped that federal stimulus money might become available to help pay for the system, but that never materialized. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old HVAC system in the Town government buildings has continued to deteriorate, to the point that in response to a question about how much of an improvement a new HVAC system for the Town would be, Town Engineer Paul Nagengast said, “Well… it’ll work…”

Due to the financial position not improving (in fact, Paul said that things have gotten worse, with payback now taking even longer than 20 years), and due to the current needs for a more functional HVAC system and the roof replacement, Town staff recommended that the solar project be scuttled and $25,000 be appropriated to replace the roof and upgrade the HVAC system, and that efficient lighting options be pursued to dramatically bring down the utility costs for Town government.

COWncil member Tanner said that solar is a good idea, but that the technology takes too much labor and time to keep running properly. He believes that LED lighting and other efficiencies are the best way to go right now for the Town. Mayor Pro Tem Romines was interested in the return on investment of the project. He also inquired as to whether a solar project could be pursued in the future after the other work was completed. The answer was yes. The COWncil then approved the motion to scrap the solar project, and to transfer money to redo the roof and HVAC system. Work is likely to begin immediately in advance of the rainy weather. We hope that the issue of solar will be revisited in the future. Our Town should be a leader and a model for environmentally sound practices.

Lastly, the COWncil heard an update on the practice of peer reviewing geologic and geotechnical reports in the Town which is an issue we will discuss fully in an up-coming article. The meeting then adjourned.

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