Dear residents that want to make sure that this project is responsible to Planet Earth and our pocketbooks:
The project's hypothesis is that the waste-to-energy plant on the 10 acres of Bixby Park will be less expensive than shipping waste elsewhere.
Let's stand together and protect the integrity of this evaluation by making sure that the City's enthusiasm for being Green doesn't ignore the green of the budget.
I attended the meeting Wednesday, and know that the City staff is diligently working on the analysis, so we cannot yet discuss details. However, there are a few simple principles that must be followed:
1. The City's cost of preparing the ten-acre site must be fully accounted for. (This is a major earth-moving exercise, and possibly involves moving many truck loads of landfill to another dump site.)
2. State law requires that the use of City property and resources be compensated at fair market value. The feasibility study must include a lease payment for the ten acres based on the fair market value of a $100 million valuation.
3. While Bixby Park was used as a dump, the Refuse Enterprise Fund paid "rent" to the Parks fund. That ended, so now each day that the Compost project delays the conversion to Park Land must be accounted for as a start-up cost of the project. This is simple accountability.
4. The City costs, as described, will be matched with savings from not having to pay to have the waste to a regional facility.
Palo Alto needs to quickly quantify the above items and have them clearly stated in the request for proposal (RFP). The lease needs to reflect a commercial rate, vs. any attempt to use the City's tax-exempt bond rates.
If the above reasonable expectations cause our Green inspirations to be in the red, then we need to move on and get our waterfront ready for the recreational destiny that has been held in check for 50 years.
As a note, the City staff I talked with at the meeting indicated a sincere desire to present an economic evaluation performed in a very judicious manner.
Let's get it done sooner, rather than later.
Timothy Gray www.vote4gray.com