Synthetic turf is off the table but the San Carlos City Council sent staff back to the drawing board for other aspects of its Crestview Park renovation — in particular, ways to potentially save a memorial redwood tree and add a safe place for stargazing.
The City Council Monday night opted against endorsing the recommended design known as Concept C and instead asked for a new Concept E to consider at the Aug. 26 meeting. The new concept would include enough hardscape surfaces for the astronomers who hold stargazing parties and worry about stumbling in the dark.
Staff will also return with cost estimates for replacing the existing grass field with new natural turf to see if it fits within the $1.7 million project budget and options for a desired roundabout at the park entryway.
As proposed, the roundabout will require removing a redwood tree at which a memorial plaque currently sits. Councilmembers Ron Collins and Karen Clapper said they will each speak with members of the Nannarone family about moving the plaque elsewhere and planting a new tree. The plaque honors Greg Nannarone who died of leukemia at age 16 in 1984.
The reduced number of trees in the park plan was an overall concern for the City Council although much of the focus was on the specific redwood. Although the council, minus Mayor Bob Grassilli who had to recuse himself because he lives too close to the park, prefers to save the tree, Councilman Ron Collins conceded it isn’t a deal breaker.
“If we can’t keep it, I can live with that,” he said, adding separately about a replacement that “the nice thing about redwoods is they grow quickly.”
The council could choose to keep the tree but only if the existing entry and parking configuration remains, said City Manager Jeff Maltbie.
Clapper called the sacrifice of one tree a long-term commitment to a turnabout which will provide more safety to those dropping off and picking up at the park.
Astronomer and longtime resident Ken Lum also asked that the turnabout be made safe for him and other skywatchers, noting that curbs and stones can represent tripping hazards.
Some of the lengthy public comment period included residents with opinions about the original call to use synthetic turf although staff changed its mind before the meeting and now recommends natural grass. At least one speaker worried that reopening the public debate over the Crestview design opens that possibility back up but others said city staff needs more time before deciding on a final blueprint because none of the original concepts A through D were well thought-out.
“We all need to step back, take a deep breath and revisit our concerns,” Susan Blackman said.
Crestview is a 1.1-acre park located on Crestview Drive north of Brittan Avenue. Many residents — often those opposed to synthetic turf — pointed to its charm or describe it as a neighborhood park rather than one that draws from throughout the city like the larger Highlands Park.
The Planning Commission favored 3-1 Concept C which included new playground equipment, nine parking spaces rather than the existing 15 and the addition of five trees. However, the commission split evenly 2-2 over the original synthetic turf recommendation.
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