Soon after workers hired by Menlo Park had finished laying down new asphalt along the sides of Laurel Avenue, resident Nancy Ice noticed something peculiar. The banks of the San Francisquito Creek nearby had a layer of fresh blacktop, about eight to 10 wheelbarrows full.
Ice acknowledges she didn't witness anybody dump the asphalt into the creek. Residents who live nearby also said they didn't see anything. But the timing between the work being done on the road in early December and the subsequent appearance of the asphalt is more than a simple coincidence, Ice said.
"There is a connection," Ice said. "It happened the same week they quit doing the street."
The Laurel Avenue resident also suspects city crews may be responsible for dumping a large pile of palm fronds into the creek in almost the same location as the asphalt.
According to Raul Dacanay in the city's engineering department, Menlo Park in September contracted G. Bortolotto Co. of Burlingame to repair root damage to a number of streets in the Willows neighborhood, among them Laurel Avenue.
Dacanay said a report on the work by a full-time inspector the city employed to oversee the street repair project did not indicate, however, that workers had disposed of asphalt in the creek. "I'm positive our contractor did not do it," Dacanay said.
Similarly, John Mathew, project manager for Bortolotto, said his workers "didn't do those things, maybe somebody else. I don't think we did something like that."
As for the palm fronds, City Engineer Ruben Nino was not aware that any city workers had dumped them in the creek.
"I went out and checked it out, and we did not dump anything in the creek," said Jerry Hornibrook, from the city's tree trimming division. "As far as who dumped that in there I don't know."
City workers, Hornibrook said, chip and shred all clippings.
Nino suggested that it's possible workers contracted by PG&E to clear branches away from power lines may have dropped them there.
A Woodland Avenue woman who lives across from where the clippings were found said gardeners frequently use the creek as a dumping ground for yard waste. "It just makes me furious," she said.
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