By Barbara Wood, Special to the Almanac
Menlo Park's City Council has a lot on its plate tonight (Jan. 14).
Among the items up for consideration:
● Changing a policy that currently limits the Caltrain corridor in Menlo Park to two tracks.
● Loaning up to $3.5 million of city funds to a developer building low-income housing on the Veterans Affairs campus.
● Confirming a decision to keep the city's current logo despite spending $30,000 to develop a new one.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center.
The discussion about rail tracks stems from the city's application for $750,000 in county money to study ways to improve the train crossing at Ravenswood Avenue. County Transportation Authority officials said they can't fund the project unless the city is willing to say it might someday consider a third set of tracks in the city, which could support future development of high-speed rail.
A position statement adopted by the council in October 2012 specifically rules out a set of "passing rails" through the city.
The request for a loan of up to $3.5 million comes from the developers of low-income housing for veterans and Menlo Park residents on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In May, the council gave preliminary approval to loaning up to $2.5 million of its BMR (below market rate) funds to the developers, CORE Affordable Housing, in return for giving priority in 11 of the 60 units to people who live or work in Menlo Park. Veterans who live or work in Menlo Park would receive even higher priority. But the project is more expensive than originally estimated and the developers have asked to borrow more money.
Assistant City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson reported that the project seems to have other funding and won't need the entire $3.5 million requested. She recommends the city loan the developers $2.5 million, with up to an extra $360,000 to offset the city's development fees.
The project is a 60-unit, two-story apartment building on VA property on Willow Road. The land will be provided at no cost to the developers.
The discussion of the city's logo is a follow-up of a decision made by the council in December to reject all the logos designed by a contractor charged with updating the city's "brand." The cost of the logo-redesign project was $30,000.
Now the council is being asked to approve slight modifications to the existing logo to allow consultants to continue working on specifications for how the logo will be used.
Click here to see the meeting agenda and staff reports.