A regional effort to calm the flood-prone San Francisquito Creek continues to evolve and expand, with Palo Alto officials this week agreeing to evaluate the possibility of including a new Baylands gym in the project.
The project, which is spearheaded by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, aims to improve flood protection in the vulnerable downstream area between Highway 101 and the Baylands. It includes rebuilding levees, creating floodwalls and reconfiguring the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course.
Last year, the City Council decided to pursue the most dramatic of available options for the golf course project, one that would reconfigure most of the holes and add three playing fields to the Baylands course. On Wednesday night, Feb. 13, the Planning and Transportation Commission learned about the possibility of another athletic amenity that could be included in the site -- a new gym.
While the gym plan is tentative and completely unfunded, Public Works officials recommended that the city evaluate the possibility in the forthcoming Environmental Impact Report for the golf course reconfiguration. Joe Teresi, a senior engineer in Public Works who is managing the project, said there was an "overture" late in the project by someone who might want to add a gym.
"It's a late addition to those athletic fields," Teresi said.
Commissioners agreed that it would be a good idea to study the alternative, though they had some hesitation about placing the gym at the edge of the city.
"As soon as I saw mention of gymnasium, I felt uncomfortable," Commissioner Alex Panelli said. "It doesn't seem to be a particularly compatible use."
Panelli said he is supportive of including the gym in the environmental analysis, given that you can "always get away" from that scenario.
Commissioner Michael Alcheck also had some hesitation about the gym, mostly because of the proposed location. He noted that it would be right next to the "Friendship Bridge" near the East Palo Alto border and asked, "Are we building a gym for East Palo Alto?"
"I don't want to suggest I'm against the gymnasium idea," Alcheck said. "One of my concerns is the notion that we're putting a gymnasium at the end of our city."