The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted to put off making the final decision on whether to accept an $8.4 million dollar offer from Stanford University to along Alpine Road between Menlo Park and Portola Valley.
The contentious issue that has long divided residents from the Ladera and Stanford Weekend Acres communities in unincorporated San Mateo County that are connected by the trail was brought back before the board for what was supposed to be a final time Tuesday afternoon.
But instead, the board voted 4-1 to spend the time leading up to their December 13 meeting finding whether Stanford would agree to shift configuration of the trail, and alter other contract details, before taking a final vote.
Supervisor , who was the sole dissenting vote against postponing the decision, said she unconditionally opposed accepting the university's money. Groom has twice voted against the project in the past.
Residents in the Weekend Acres community overwhelmingly oppose the project, claiming that the additional traffic that will be brought to their neighborhood will be a detriment, among other concerns.
Yet members of the Ladera community encourage San Mateo County to accept Stanford University's money to study how the trail can be improved; they are in favor of the increased connectivity it would offer to neighborhood residents who want to get to Stanford Shopping Center, and other surrounding areas.
Both sides of the issue agree that the trail is in dire need of repair, citing how dangerously close it is to the traffic-heavy . Erosion has shifted portions of the trail against San Franciscquito Creek.
The disagreements lie in differing opinions of how much repair work needs to be done and where the will trail lead if the decision is made to re-reoute it.
Nearly 40 speakers attending Tuesday's meeting provided perspective to the board on how they believe the project should proceed. Most from Stanford Weekend Acres proposed that the board shoot down the offer from Stanford once and for all, while those from Ladera pled to have a better trail built that they could use to walk and bike on.
Attorney and San Jose State law professor Joseph Dworak spoke to the board in favor of the project being approved. The Ladera resident said his daughter recently crashed while riding her bike on the trail, due to its ill state of repair.
"The new trail is needed. And the trail is needed now," said Dworak.
But John Peterson, who lives in Stanford Weekend Acres, said the proposal should be rejected, because no amount of engineering or studying can be done to satisfy everyone living near it. Peterson's 12-year-old son Ian spoke to the board after his father and echoed the same sentiments.
"I hope we can keep our neighborhood the way it is without having a huge construction project on our street," he said.
Representatives from Stanford have set a self-imposed deadline for the board to vote in favor of accepting the money, but have also expressed willingness to extend the deadline should that be the wish of the county.
If the supervisors elect to decline the university's offer, the money would then be given to Santa Clara County for similar trail projects.
The comes as part of an agreement between Stanford and Santa Clara County as a trade-off for the school's ongoing expansion projects.