The course is slated for major changes under a regional plan to calm the flood-prone San Francisquito Creek, which lies adjacent to the Embarcadero Road golf facility. The flood-protection plan offered by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority — a coalition that includes Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and water officials from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — proposes constructing a levee at the golf course to protect residents downstream from potential damage.
The flood-control plan would make some changes to the course inevitable, but the council's four-member Finance Committee Tuesday threw its unanimous support behind Option G — the most ambitious and transformative of the four alternatives on the table. The proposal would relocate 15 of the course's 18 holes, create 15 new greens and allocate about 10.5 acres at the 170-acre course for athletic fields.
Option G costs more than the other three options but also creates the greatest opportunity for the city to recoup its investment, according to an economic study the city commissioned. The city's golf-course consultant, Forrest Richardson, pegged this option's price tag at about $7 million. The other options range from $3.5 million to $5.9 million.
In backing Option G, the committee praised it as a great opportunity to leverage regional funds for a project that would both revitalize the 18-hole course, which was built in the 1950s and last remodeled in the mid-1970s, as well as add athletic fields, a pressing need in a city with a booming student population.
The city works regularly with 34 local sports clubs and nonprofits that represent about 25,000 participants, a recent city report stated. Demand is expected to grow due to year-round sports seasons, new housing developments, the growing number of girls in team sports and new sports organizations.
The $7 million price tag does not include the cost of building the fields, but it makes land available for these facilities. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff said he is hopeful the city could go out to the community to raise money for the new athletic facilities.
"I think we desperately need new playing fields," Scharff said. "We're creating land here by doing this, and I think we're getting a much, much better golf course."
Option G would generate about $1 million more in annual revenues than Option A once the city pays off the debt on the course, according to a study from the consultant, National Golf Foundation Consulting.
The project would involve closing the course from April 2013 to March 2014 and would include full replacement of the course's irrigation system and transformation of 43 acres to naturalized space, according to the city.
The decision by the creek authority to build a levee on the golf course is part of a long-awaited plan. The creek overflowed in a 1998 storm, causing damage to about 1,700 properties.
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