Letters | April 2, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - April 2, 2010


Chess divas


We would like to thank the groups of people who came by to help Haiti and learn a bit more about chess at our March 20-21 fundraiser in Lytton Plaza. We raised $430 for UNICEF Haiti relief by having fun and playing fast-paced five-minute blitz games with many of you who rose to our challenge and donated $5 per game to help people who really needed it. We really wanted to find a way to combine our passion for chess with the overwhelming need of earthquake survivors in Haiti, and I think we did, in a friendly community gathering place. The money is on its way.

Meanwhile, we hope that many of you will continue to help Haiti and also to enjoy chess by watching our award-winning local access "Chess Diva" show on Midpeninsula local access television. in Palo Alto. Thanks to all of you again, who stopped by.

Lauren and Barbara Goodkind

"The Chess Divas"

Palo Alto

Park vs. composting?


On the issue of retaining composting in Palo Alto, park advocates have been framing it as park vs. no park. However:

1) The proposed anaerobic digestion facility would take only about 8 acres — less than 10 percent — of Byxbee Park, which is only one part of 2,000 acres of preserved baylands.

2) Byxbee is not yet developed, and with the city's current budget crisis, the only near-term hope for converting it to a real park would be revenue from the sale of energy generated by the compost.

3) Anaerobic digestion of compost would not disturb enjoyment of the park. The composting would take place in a closed container next to the Water Quality Treatment Plant and be covered by a green roof. The small amount of noise from its operation would be lost in that of the plant and airport, about which no current park users have complained.

4) One important function of a park is education. The composting facility could include a center where visitors could learn about how anaerobic digestion not only diverts waste but produces both valuable compost and energy.

The technology is proven; there are 12 such facilities in Germany and another 12 in the pipeline. Palo Alto's would be first in this country and would symbolize the city's continuing environmental leadership.

With its potential economic benefits and community support, the proposal deserves a feasibility study, and the final decision should be by the voters.

Walter Hays

Parkside Drive

Palo Alto

Pro-anaerobic facility


In light of the recent letters about Palo Alto's supply of renewable energy, I'd like to express my support for the commission of a feasibility study by the Palo Alto City Council on the viability of an anaerobic digestion facility located within the city.

Research on the subject has found it to be a legitimate technology, widely adopted with great success and the cornerstone of an effective integrated waste management operation. Anaerobic digesters have been recognized by the United Nations Development Program as one of the most useful decentralized sources of energy supply and would significantly further the emission reduction goals set forth in Palo Alto's Climate Protection Plan.

Palo Alto is well-positioned for this kind of technology due to the fact that we are of municipal scale, own our own utilities and have the ability to co-locate the facility next to an existing wastewater treatment plant. Imagine finally getting to retire our outdated incinerator and re-directing the savings toward things like parkland and open space.

Having the foresight and creativity to turn what is currently a waste expense into a revenue stream shows the sort of leadership we've all come to expect from Palo Alto. To take care of our waste locally while also generating electricity, natural gas, compost and revenue for the city shows tremendous financial, environmental and social responsibility — not to mention the sense of pride it would foster.

I would like to see us continue to lead others in these efforts by encouraging the city to commission a feasibility study of an anaerobic-digester facility. Though new to us, let's not be afraid of technology that's already proven feasible by others. www.pagreenenergy.org has some enlightening facts on the subject as well as a petition to sign if in favor of such a study.

Brandy Faulkner

Barron Park

Palo Alto


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