Page 16

Cover Story by Gennady Sheyner photographs by Veronica Weber

KEEPING

Palo Alto RUNNING

Palo Alto considers replacing, relocating its aged Municipal Services Center

Above: B that is us is among pursues

Various city vehicles — from police, fire and public works departments — are maintained at Palo Alto’s Municipal Services Center.

Palo Alto Baylands Park

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Illustration by Shannon Corey

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Right: Potential options for a land swap could split functions of the Municipal Services Center between Embarcadero Road, where Audi and Honda dealerships are located, and the site of the Los Altos Sewage Treatment Plant on San Antonio Road.

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fixed. On a recent day at the mechanics’ shop, a fire engine stood alongside a Public Works truck, a golf cart and the Police Department’s mobile-operations vehicle. The East Bayshore Road center is slated to only get busier in the coming years as Palo Alto embarks on what Mayor Yiaway Yeh called the “year of infrastructure investment and renewal.” The effort kicked off last month, when the council received a long-awaited report from the specially appointed Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission — a 17-member panel that had spent more than a year delving into the infrastructure problem. The group concluded that the city has about $41.2 million in deferred maintenance and that it has to increase its capital spending by $2.2 million a year to keep the city’s streets, parks and facilities up to par. If the council proceeds with the report’s recommendations and accelerates the city’s infrastructure spending, much of the workload will fall on the roughly 300 workers based at the Municipal Services Center. But the largest and most ambitious recommendations in the

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alo Alto’s Municipal Services Center is a sprawling maze of industrial activity — a 16-acre complex where hardhats abound and utility trucks loaded with spools of electric wire stand alongside fire engines and as-yet-uninstalled gas lines, street signs, generators, sandbags, asphalt, rock and other utilitarian necessities. Tucked between the Baylands and U.S. Highway 101, about a mile south of Oregon Expressway, the Municipal Services Center is a collection of concrete buildings shared by five departments — Utilities, Public Works, Community Services, Police and Administrative Services. A shared warehouse is loaded with maintenance tools and supplies. If University Avenue is the glitzy face of Palo Alto and Stanford Research Park is the city’s high-tech soul, this vast compound is the city’s guts. From this blue-collar base, city workers make sure that Palo Alto’s potholes are repaired, its storm drains get cleared and its gas and electricity run unimpeded. This is where the city’s vast fleet of vehicles is stored, fueled up and

Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course

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Palo Alto Weekly 02.10.2012 - section 1  

Section 1 of the February 10, 2012 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly

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