As Palo Alto strives to sort out the future of its financially shaky waste operation, city officials are proceeding with plans to spruce up the Baylands area where most of the operation is based.
The city is preparing for a series of landscaping projects around the Regional Water Quality Control Plant and the nearby Hazardous Household Waste facility in Byxbee Park. The projects, which the city's Planning and Transportation Commission plans to discuss tonight (Aug. 31), include a new path system with signage near the water-treatment plant, improved landscaping and "meeting areas" for public tours of the plant, and an expansion of the hazardous-waste facility to compensate for the possible closure of the nearby Recycling Center.
The goals of the landscaping project, according to Julie Weiss, an environmental specialist at the water-treatment plant, include facilitating safer pedestrian travel near the plant; screening the plant from the Baylands; and creating a "habitat corridor" between the Emily Renzel Marsh and the San Francisco Bay.
The city also hopes to improve the irrigation system and replace some of the dead or overgrown vegetation at the site.
"The current condition of the landscaping is inadequate," Weiss wrote in the report. "Some of the planted vegetation is in poor health and/or structural condition, or has died. Many areas have become overgrown and the irrigation system is no longer functional."
The hazardous waste drop-off facility, which is located near the entrance to the water-plant, would also undergo renovations, including new storage bins, a canopy structure to protect hazardous wastes from rain water and a security fence.
One of the goals, according to a report from Environmentalist Specialist Chuck Muir, is to create one drop-off location for hazardous items and substances, including toxic waste, pesticides, gasoline, propane tanks, injection needles and fluorescent bulbs. These items are now collected at the Recycling Center and other locations around the plant. The City Council is considering closing the Recycling Center to save money and staff is in the midst of putting together a plan for the center's closure.
Muir also wrote that another goal of the project is to provide a more convenient program for residents seeking to drop off hazardous waste. Currently, residents can drop off materials during collection events held on the first Saturday of every month before 9 a.m. and noon. Staff is proposing holding two-hour collection events twice per week and on selected Saturdays.
Staff hopes to complete the renovations of the Household Hazardous Waste Station within about a year.
The Planning and Transportation Commission meeting will begin at 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) in the Downtown Library, 270 Forest Ave.