Since that terrible flood that affected hundreds and hundreds of residents, there have been feeble attempts to try to “fix” the creek problem. Ten years later, we are now back to the beginning, with a solution nowhere in sight.
All this despite the fact that a Joint Powers Authority was formed, and a woman named Cynthia D’Agosta was hired to figure out what to do. She was earning a six-digit salary since the early part of this century. We were soon paying one of her relatives whom she put on the JPA payroll.
I had long wondered what a person would do every day, five days a week, 40 hours a day, to “fix” the creek. I was told that she was involved in all sorts of studies and was trying to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a solution.
For years the JPA board members agreed that anything done to improve the creek had to be environmentally sound and safe, and that means not harming plants, fish, insects or wildlife.
The “solution,” we were soon told, would take millions of dollars (if not billions) and about 40 years to complete. The JPA was relying solely on the Army Corps of Engineers for direction and guidance, and figured that we would get annual payments from the federal government to finance our creek problem.
Then the Army Corps got involved in Katrina, the federal government balked at spending much money to come up with creek solutions, and everything was suddenly on hold.
D’Agosta apparently has left (although her exit was not reported in local newspapers as of Monday), and now I read in the Weekly that the JPA is going to ask the public — yes, we, the people —to suggest what should be done. A list of 26 possible approaches are listed on the city’s web site www.cityofpaloalto.org and we can choose one of the suggestions or add our own.
This is blatantly ridiculous. I took a look at that list, and as a lay person could not even speculate which approach would work. Maybe there are a few engineers in town with expertise on creek flows and flooding problems that could offer their ideas — that would be fine, but I cannot begin to say which route I prefer. For example, suggestions 15 to 21 include the following:
15) Construct a culvert around/adjacent to the Pope-Chaucer bridge
16) Construct a culvert around/adjacent to the Middlefield bridge
17) Widen channel in areas of low capacity
18) Build floodwalls in areas of low capacity
19) Construct floodwalls upstream of Pope-Chaucer bridge to improve storage capacity of channel
20) Construct a pump-pressure pipe bypass at Willow Rd
21) Install underground storage below Alma Street in Menlo Park
See what I mean?
Suggestions from us are due in by April 9 and should be e-mailed to email@example.com.
And costs for all this? Well, a very scaled-down creek solution (one not yet chosen) will be $10 million to $50 million – or more, according the city’s web page. A consultant will cost $175,000 and planning costs are an estimated $3 million.
Plus all the millions we have already spent on the JPA and its staff to get us nowhere.
Most of all, I feel sorry for the people living near the creek whose homes are endangered each time we have heavy rains during the winter season.