|The City Council held a wide-ranging study session Tuesday to prioritize a long list of city improvement projects over the next five years. In a separate discussion, council members wrestled with the definition of "open space" following contention among residents about its absence in some neighborhoods.
Council members narrowed discussion to a few key projects and issues, and city staff were directed to come up with funding options to expedite the Del Medio Avenue mini-park, which the city purchased land for but needs to design and build at a cost of $800,000.
Members also supported minor funding to complete the design details of the Cuesta Annex and to fast-track a new fire station on Shoreline Boulevard for $10 million, which council members Nick Galiotto and Margaret Abe-Koga said was taking too long.
Bob Weaver, president of the city's historical association, spoke in favor of funding to finish the planning details of the Cuesta Annex. A history museum, which would be a $5 million gift to the city, is planned for the Annex, and Weaver said funding the Annex would help its cause.
The council supported $400,000 for planning the final details of the Annex, as well as a master plan for the rest of Cuesta Park.
The projects proposed by city staff include the following for 2008-09: design and construction of a new park at Dana and Mariposa Streets for $1.3 million; a $200,000 study for a Rengstorff Avenue railroad underpass; a $200,000 study for a Permanente Creek Trail undercrossing at Charleston Road.
Other possible projects for coming years included a $9 million athletic field at Shoreline Park and a $5 million park in the Whisman area.
Longer-term projects the city has yet to find money for include a $50 million community and teen center, $50 million for a new police and fire administration building (the existing one has seismic issues), and a Stevens Creek Trail overcrossing from Dale Avenue to Mountain View High School, which would cost a projected $15 million.
The issue of open space
Following years of hotly contested housing developments -- with a big sticking point being the loss or lack of open space -- the city is now prepared to redefine what "open space" means in Mountain View as part of the parks and open space section of the general plan.
In order to figure out which neighborhoods are deficient in open space, the city may restrict the definition to exclude things like community gardens, regional parks such as Shoreline, open space along trails, and "single use" areas such as skate parks. Using the new definition, the average number of acres per 1,000 residents drops from three acres to 2.6. The city's goal is to keep it above three acres.
Council member Matt Pear said he wanted the city to keep track of things like the open space along the Stevens Creek Trail and the large Shoreline Park, as the city continues to spend millions of dollars on those projects.
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