Aesthetics debate brews in downtown Menlo Park

Menlo Park is considering significantly boosting the cost of a sidewalk project along a main downtown street to keep out “eye pollution,” as one official put it.

At issue is whether to install up to 40 no-parking signs along a stretch of Santa Cruz Avenue or paint the curbs red to designate that there is no on-street parking.

It’s the last remaining element of a project to install new sidewalks, driveways, handicap ramps, storm drains and bicycle lanes between Johnson and Olive streets. Signs would cost a total of $7,500 and last 10 years, but red curbs will cost $110,000 over the same period because they cost up to $15,000 to install and require repainting every one to two years.

The city is also installing new speed limit and school zone signs along the street.

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Red curbs are preferred by a number of people who have sent comments to the council. Given that the work performed by JJR Construction Inc., at $3.36 million, came in $440,000 under budget because a cheaper type of asphalt than expected was used, the added expense would not require any additional money, Councilman Ray Mueller noted.

“I don’t think it’s a waste of money to be concerned about those aesthetics,” Mueller said. “If you look at the current number of signs and think of the additional signs, it is overwhelming … (it’s) eye pollution. Even if you combine the signs, the overall effect is it’s just a lot of signs.

“We’ve spent over a million dollars on a sprinkler system for downtown for the plants. Doing red curbs here is not that expensive, for the overall effect.”

Mayor Kirsten Keith wasn’t sure red curbs were the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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