Looking for every possible savings, Half Moon Bay officials are considering pulling out the grass lawns at local parks and putting down rocks or mulch instead.
The new idea could save as much as $12,000 a year that the city would normally be paying to irrigate the lawns at parks such as Ocean View Park, Carter Park and the other recreation areas around Half Moon Bay.
City officials note that more that 70 percent of the town's water bill comes from keeping park lawns green, even though some fields are there only for aesthetic reasons.
For example, Public Works Superintendent Larry Carnahan points to Frenchmans Creek Park, where the city could find savings of up to $1,500. He suggested the city should replace the grassy lawn with picnic tables, barbecue pits and granite rocks.
Popular Ocean View Park, which recently received a new playground thanks to community support, could also become more rocky. The Alsace Lorraine Park could be home to less grass but more eating areas for picnics and gatherings.
The underused Carter Park near Stone Pine Road could undergo a major makeover with all of its grass field removed and replaced with rocks or drought-resistant plants.
"Carter Park, without a doubt, needs work," said Councilman John Muller. "Every penny saved is worthwhile for this community."
City officials say the time is right to make city parks more water-conscious because they could use as much as $3,000 in aid from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency. Reducing the city's water usage would also mean the city could switch to smaller water meters at several parks, resulting in further savings.
Carnahan estimated that the city could recover all its costs through water savings in about two years.
Elected leaders will consider the park proposal again at a future council meeting. The Half Moon Bay City Council met at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Ted Adcock Community Senior Center for its regularly scheduled meeting. Mayor Allan Alifano, Councilwomen Naomi Patridge and Marina Fraser and Councilmen Rick Kowalczyk and Muller were in attendance. During the meeting the council:
Heard: An annual update from the local library. Branch Manager Annie Malley said the library benefited from more than 1,700 hours of volunteer help and a $15,000 grant to improve the interior.
Approved (5-0): An annual audit of the city's finances. Independent accountants reviewing the books noted the city's assets surpassed its liabilities by $69.8 million.
Approved (5-0): Rolling over three capital projects into next year, including improvements to local highways and energy-efficiency upgrades to the city buildings.