Palo Alto's evolving effort to bring a "Wow!" factor to its Baylands golf course and to build three athletic fields next to the course will be reviewed by Parks and Recreation Commission tonight.
The project has undergone major changes since it was first proposed by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority as a way to improve flood control in the vulnerable downstream area. The authority, which includes representatives from Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, proposed reconfiguring the golf course as part of a broader plan that includes rebuilding levees and floodwalls between the San Francisco Bay and U.S. Highway 101.
Over the past two years, the project has greatly expanded in scope as the Palo Alto City Council decided to leverage the creek-control project by adding athletic fields and pursuing the most dramatic and expensive option for its redesign. The council's goal is to improve the course, which was built in the 1950s and has seen a drop in the number of rounds played in recent years, by emphasizing its Baylands location and adding a little pizazz.
A new city report emphasizes that the new course "would be designed with a Baylands theme that would incorporate or modify the existing low-lying areas into the golf course, reduce the area of managed turf, and introduce areas of native grassland and wetland habitat." This means more native plants, muted colors and horizontal elements, with fences and signs placed low to the ground.
Under "Plan G," which the council endorsed last July, the city would relocate all 18 holes on the par-72 course (turning it into a par-71 course), construct 18 new greens, rebuild all the bunkers, transform 66 irrigated areas into non-managed turf, expand the driving-range area, construct a new restroom building, install new golf-cart paths and replace the irrigation system to reduce water usage by 30 to 35 percent. And in the latest twist, the plan would set aside 10.5 acres of the golf course for a potential future expansion of the Baylands Athletic Center -- a project for which the city currently has neither a design nor the funding.
The project would also require the city to remove 694 of the 844 trees at the existing 170-acre golf course. According to the new report from Senior Engineer Joe Teresi and Recreation Services Manager Rob de Geus, these trees would be replaced in accordance with local policy.
The Parks and Recreation Commission is the first of three local boards that will need to approve the plans for redesigning the golf course. The Planning and Transportation Commission, which has already discussed the project once, is scheduled to formally review it on April 24. The Architectural Review Board is also scheduled to consider it before it goes to the council.
The city hopes to begin construction in spring 2014 and to complete it within 12 to 15 months.
The Parks and Recreation Commission meeting will begin at 7 p.m. tonight in the Council Conference Room at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.).