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Palo Alto Baylands boardwalk is closed

Original post made by resident on Mar 12, 2014

Saw this on the "Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve" Facebook page:
Web Link

The boardwalk between the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Center and the bay is closed for safety reasons

The Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center Boardwalk has been closed due to unsafe conditions in the structure.

The boardwalk was installed at the same time as the Interpretive Center (they were dedicated in 1969). The pilings and supports under the boardwalk have gradually decayed and broken due to the elements and impacts from the tidal saltwater.

Over the years staff has made many repairs to the boardwalk, however, now the majority of the support pilings and structure of the boardwalk are broken. Most likely the entire boardwalk will have to be replaced. Given the environmentally sensitive location and future changes in sea level rise, the City will study how best to address the problem.

The City is in the process of requesting capital improvement project funding a study to determine the best course of action for repairing and/or replacing the boardwalk. This will likely begin late this year or early next year.

For more information about this project call John Aiken, Manager of the Junior Museum and Zoo, at (650) 329-2111.

Comments (16)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

This is not really a surprise considering the state it has been in for sometime. I often walk there and will miss it greatly.

In Palo Alto terminology this means that it will never reopen in our lifetime considering the mess of the Mitchell Park library, El Camino Park and anything else Palo Alto considers over and over again without doing anything.


Posted by Someone, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm

We used to like that boardwalk.

I wonder if it was on purpose if they let it deteriorate to this point of having to close it. I'd bet on that. I doubt it was for lack of money.

So, I wonder what the ulterior motive is...

I remember the old Mitchell Park Library. When they wanted the new one (before the bonds were voted on and stupidly approved by voters) they let the library go unmaintained, so that it started to look atrocious. The exterior paint was peeling for example. So, everybody started saying that the library was a dump which needed to be torn down and rebuilt, while the issue was mostly cosmetic and could be addressed easily with a remodel and improvements (and seismic retrofit). We would be so much better off with the old library refurbished and added on. Instead we have this new yet to open unbelievable expensive monstrosity.

Anyway, what is the reason they have let the boardwalk deteriorate to the point of having to close it? It could be valid (such as the boardwalk being an problem for the sensitive environment at that location for example) or it could be another sinister ploy to make us buy into some other awful initiative requiring more bonds and more taxes... and anything in between.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Sorry to see the boardwalk closed -- unique perspective of bay geography from that platform.


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Nah, it is simple, the lawyers said close it. When we first came to Palo Alto you could walk all over board walks all the way to the power line towers. Sigh.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

The PA Baylands are a great place and please replace this boardwalk. We have enjoyed going out there and usually see a lot of others, too. You get a good closeup look at the bay for us landlubbers (non-yachties...).


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I'm also sorry to see it closed. It was one of my favorite places to walk. I hope they figure a way to restore it soon. However, as I watched erosion from the bay come closer and closer to the support pilings, uncovering rebar that were probably there to stabilize it earlier, I thought it was only a matter of time before it needed to be rebuilt.

I don't see rising sea level as a major problem for this boardwalk. Mostly it is finding the money to fix it in the near term. I expect a restored boardwalk could easily reach the next end of its life long before the sea level increase would have any measurable impact. It is by no means a permanent structure.

Where is the concern about the impact of rising sea level on far more permanent structures on the East side of 101 like the new Google office buildings and the Saltworks project in RWC? Dump the boardwalk but build houses and offices? How ridiculous. I think this should be a serious consideration for the planning for whatever PA develops to replace the incinerators for the sewage sludge. I support the anaerobic digester or a similar solution - but hope they elevate it enough to withstand tidal flooding.


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm

A park is no place for an industrial garbage plant.


Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:53 am

I will sorely miss the boardwalk. I walk there frequently and have long considered it one of the best spots in Palo Alto. I hope the City will decide to restore and reopen it.


Posted by jardins, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thank you, the resident who posted this information! If you'd not done that, this fait accompli by the city would have gone unnoticed by most of us-- especially those of us who aren't on Facebook and/or whose children are grown and beyond their Junior Museum and Zoo days.

Why weren't Palo Alto residents told ahead of time that this closure was going to happen? Why hasn't there been any discussion of a plan to replace the boardwalk--or a plan to NOT replace it?

How many other things are being done or undone by the city without any prior notification of the residents, whose city it is??


Posted by Janet, a resident of University South
on Mar 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I'm so sorry to see the boardwalk close. I love walking there. It's the place I always take out of town visitors and they just love it every time. I hope the city can replace it right away! It's one of the defining features of our city!


Posted by Memories, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

My wife and I got married on the boardwalk in 1997 and we had the reception in the visitors center. A bird pooped on my best man.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

This closing of the boardwalk has been eminent for a lonnnng time, but this is not high on the city staff's agenda.Mst of them don't even live here so why should they care? The elegant bridge of 101, the re-furbrishing of City Hall, the wasted money for consultants - even though there are over a thousand city employees supposedly highly 'educated', the garbage factory ---all of these will come first over the Baylands upkeep. And also the miserable streets north of the Oregon Expressway. This town is so badly run. Sad, very sad.


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I am really dismayed about this,,but if it is for the best of the wildlife habitat, so be it. We will have to replace our weekend hikes with another activity or location.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Is it possible that any replacement must be 100% ADA compliant, then, still meet ALL Bay environmental rules? Tis far better to block all use, rather than have to spend MILLIONS to make it accessible for every possible user.


Posted by Enid Pearson, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Looks like it's time to start a "Friends of Lucy Evans Baylands Center".
The center has been slowly deteriorating for several years. It is not high on the preservation list of Palo Alto public buildings. This was the FIRST environmental center to be built on the Bay back in 1969. We can't let it sink because of neglect. Go the the City's Web site and a view of the Board Walk is one of the great scenes of Palo Alto. Friends can usually influence councils to do the right thing. Look at the animal shelter.


Posted by WilliamR, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 20, 2014 at 9:21 pm

I'm not really familiar with the baylands boardwalk, but I've followed the comments, so I'll ask this anyway-- I assume that a lot of the environmental concern about repairing or replacing the current structure would relate to sinking new pilings into the bottom, and disturbing any toxic sediments that might be there. Would a floating boardwalk on pontoons be feasible, as well as safe? Sections could be pre-fabbed on land and moved into place.


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