The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to decline a $10.4 million offer from Stanford University to improve the trail along Alpine Road.
Supervisors Rose Jacobs Gibson, Adrienne Tissier and Carole Groom voted to shoot down the offer, while Dave Pine and Don Horsley favored approving the recommendation from county staff to spend more time studying .
Ginger Holt, a resident of the unincorporated community that neighbors the trail, said she was shocked and delighted by the board's decision.
"I'm speechless," said Holt, moments after supervisors rendered their votes. "The board has listened to the community, and it made the right decision."
Holt and many of her neighbors urged the board to turn down the offer from Stanford. Others from the nearby Ladera neighborhood pleaded with the board to accept the money and study potential improvements to that spans between Menlo Park and Portola Valley.
Nearly 60 residents from Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres publicly voiced their opinion to supervisors before a vote from the board decided the matter Tuesday.
Many from Stanford Weekend Acres expressed concerns that the trail is dangerous due its as well as its proximity to traffic on Alpine Road. They also said building a larger, multi-use recreational trail in the area would only create more safety hazards.
Meanwhile, those from Ladera encouraged the board to to accept an offer from Stanford that would keep the money on the table until 2013. Study which one of the five previously agreed upon trail configurations was the best improvement, they said. Then vote again prior to constructing anything.
Attorney and San Jose State law professor Joseph Dworak, who lives in Ladera, told supervisors they had "no compelling reason to not accept" the university's offer.
Ultimately, a majority of the board disagreed. Tuesday's decision was the third time county supervisors have turned down money earmarked for trail improvements from Stanford.
Groom, who voted against accepting the money twice, said that the county could pursue other options to fix the trail, such as locating available grant funding. She called her decision "a vote for a more reasonable solution."
Tissier also favored making improvements to the trail, albeit ones that did not include large scale construction projects as stipulations for fund distribution. She was dismayed when Stanford representative Larry Horton said it was unlikely that would contribute leased land on the university's campus for trail space, which was a previously agreed upon option. Tissier considered the inclusion of unavailable land in a negotiation to be "somewhat disingenuous."
Jacobs Gibson said it wasn't a viable option to construct a trail across Stanford land, which would have been necessary to bypass the segment that borders Stanford Weekend Acres.
Both Pine and Horsley argued in favor of the county taking more time to study different trail configurations before voting on whether to proceed with one. In the end, their efforts were in vain.
The millions will now go to Santa Clara County to be used for similar trail projects.
Outside the Board Chambers in Redwood City, Holt said she wanted the resolution to mark the end of the contentious issue that has divided the communities of Stanford Weekend Acres and Ladera for years.
"I'm hopeful that we can begin the healing process," she said.
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