News

Renovating Menlo Park's city hall may cost up to $1.2 million

Council originally budgeted $300,000

Sticker shock struck the Menlo Park City Council after staff acknowledged that the projected cost of a city hall renovation could reach quadruple the amount budgeted.

Initially the council approved $300,000 for the project, which would update features such as the 15-year-old carpet as well as reconfiguring workspace for more efficient service.

After getting the budget approved, the city then hired a consultant, Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning, to evaluate how to better arrange the various departments contained within the city's administration building. According to the staff report produced for a Feb. 25 study session, the preferred floor plan would regroup departments by similarity, such as putting the economic development office within the finance department. Kiosks would be added on the first floor for customer self-service.

But that renovation plan exceeds the budget by about $500,000. And if one looked only at the staff report, one could be forgiven for thinking that the resulting total would then be $800,000.

Actually, it's $1.2 million. Although the report discussed the need to replace the carpet, it neglected to mention that the cost wasn't included in the $800,000 budget. New carpet, staff told the council, would add another $400,000, for a grand total of $1.2 million.

This took some time for the council to absorb.

"How much is carpet going to be?" Vice Mayor Cat Carlton asked. When staff responded with $400,000, she said, "For carpet alone?"

That would be a yes. The price tag on the rest of the renovations also sparked questions.

"Far be it from me to micro-manage," said Councilman Rich Cline, but when he oversaw similar projects of about 23,000 square feet, the cost "was so much less." In comparison, the size of the administration building is about 30,000 square feet, according to staff.

Staff said that the city expects to pay "a premium" for the work since crews will have to knock down walls and complete other carpentry tasks during weekend or evening hours, given that city hall can't shut down for extended periods.

Mayor Ray Mueller noted that city hall is already closed every other Friday, while Councilwoman Kirsten Keith asked if business functions could be housed within a temporary building to allow the renovations to proceed during normal hours. She also asked whether directing people to use computers at the library, located a short walk away from the administration building, was a more cost-effective solution than installing new kiosks at city hall.

One plus: The money to cover the cost of renovation unexpectedly became available when the state reallocated a higher proportion of property taxes to Menlo Park than expected, a $1.6 million windfall, City Manager Alex McIntyre said.

In the end, the preferred option got a lukewarm reception from the council.

"Good idea, wrong plan," Ms. Carlton said. The council asked staff to return with either more options or a greater justification of the expense.

When the Almanac asked Mr. McIntyre after the meeting why the cost of the carpet wasn't spelled out in the staff report, he said, "The carpet project is already embedded in the capital improvement plan approved by the City Council. It will happen regardless of any remodel."

The Feb. 25 discussion, on the other hand, was about whether to go ahead with a simple city hall remodel within the original budget, or proceed with the staff-preferred design, he said. "How the carpet plays into the conversation is recognizing that the carpet project will be highly disruptive to the city hall operations and since that disruption is to occur, the once-a-decade opportunity to address long-term needs seemed a reasonable conversation to have with the council."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 7, 2014 at 11:24 am

Half a million dollar's worth of carpet should provide some nice featherbedding for a favored crony or two.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Mr. Davis:

It's $400,000 and that's really not that "out there" as you might imagine. A decent commercial carpet runs about $50/syd installed. If we look at the cost not including the cost of removing and disposing of the old carpet (and that won't be cheap - the carpet is glued down)that makes 8000 syds. 8000 yards is 72,000 square feet. I'm not sure how many square feet city hall is, but 72,000 square feet sounds within the realm of reality. So, no one is "feathering their nest." It sounds to me, as a builder, to be a legitimate cost. And it can't go to someone's "crony" as it has to be put out to open bid due to the size of the contract.


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Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm

$400,000 for carpeting and the excuse is that it has to be done on a weekend? you mean like most carpeting jobs? home depot has crews that install carpeting - should take one day to rip out to the old and install the new. Probably could be done for a tenth of that cost, but the City Manager doesn't care cause our City a "windfall" from tax revenues. You'd think that the City Council would be tired of his wasteful spending and City staff moronic excuses by now. $48 thousand for a new logo seems like a drop in the wasteful bucket compared to this one. I would like to know what other bids were received for the carpeting. And who gave approval to this sweetheart deal for $400,000 dollars. Did someone misplace a decimal marks. What a friggin joke. The carpet isn't the only thing that needs to be removed from City Hall.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OLD TIMER
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Why in the world did we ever hire McIntyrre. I guess he wants a palace for his office.

How offensive can one be with this comment.

"When the Almanac asked Mr. McIntyre after the meeting why the cost of the carpet wasn't spelled out in the staff report, he said, "The carpet project is already embedded in the capital improvement plan approved by the City Council. It will happen regardless of any remodel."

Talk about devious. Since he has been installed, beware, he has dumped the City Controller and hired his own money people. Are we headed to a situation like the City of Bell down south?

I suggest right now an outside audit, from a group not chosen by McIntyre to look over what has been going on the last couple of years. Beware of kick-backs etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

It doesn't take an Old Timer to see that the City Manager has no interest in listening to the City Council or the Citizens of Menlo Park about anything. The Arrogance he is displaying is appalling. "How offensive can one be with this comment." ?!?! Clearly the City Council must realize the made a huge mistake they made in hiring this guy. Will they have the integrity to admit their mistake, and replace him with someone who is fiscally responsible and accountable to the PEOPLE of Menlo Park? Or will they continue to allow this City Manager to make a mockery of our City?



 +   Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 4:04 pm

To Menlo Voter. The bldg is 30,000 sq ft per city staff, That includes many areas w/o carpeting such as bathrooms, stairwells, etc. But even using the 30k figure that's 3333 sq yards. At your $50/sq yd cost installed that's only $167,000 not $400,000.

Something is definitely amiss with the quality of staff math, reports etc.

Let's hope they don't use the property tax "windfall" as an excuse to do their desired $1.2 million job, which of course they'll turn into $2.2 million by the time they're done messing around. That $1.6 million tax "windfall" can be used for a lot of other more important and more necessary city needs.

Rip out the current carpeting and paint the floors. Hand out ear plugs to staff who think working without carpeting is too noisy.

Use the calculator at Web Link and "best" carpeting installed comes out to about $90,000. Not saying this will be the price but someone at city hall is not doing much decent research into costs and life of carpeting.


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Posted by Again?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I can understand needing new carpet, but why a remodel?

City Hall went through a pretty extensive remodel about 15 years ago. Workspaces were changed and departments moved to better work with each other.

Is another remodel truly needed?


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Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Just sick of McIntyre and his arrogance ever since he stepped foot in the City. Doesn't Council have the guts to fire him? It would take courage that the Council doesn't have.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

It's interesting that when the organization Emerging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) interviewed Menlo Park's city manager Alex McIntyre they asked him to "Describe the two biggest differences in managing a city in California as opposed to Oregon" one his two responses to the question was "There are no citizen budget committees in California. Enough said!"

It's looking like it might be prudent for Menlo Park to appoint a citizen budget committee while McIntyre is our city manager.

Link to the above mentioned ELGL interview - Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

What you all are missing is that this is a public works project. As such it must be done at "prevailing wage." Prevailing wage is based on local union wages AND benefits. That's a big number for labor. When I quoted $50 a yard that was based on NON-union labor doing the work and certainly not at prevailing wage. This is the law. The law was put in place by the state legislature, bought and paid for by the labor unions. Yes this work could be done for less, IF it could be done at regular non-union, non-prevailing wage rates.

Again, there is no cronyism here beyond the cronyism of the labor unions buying our legislature. this job will go out to bid and the lowest qualified bidder will do the work, not some "crony."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Allow me to rephrase my comment:

Nearly half a million dollar's worth of carpet will provide some nice featherbedding for our local overpaid unionists sheltered by the malign hand of our corrupt legislature.

The furthest thing from the mind of anyone involved is value for the citizens of Menlo Park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Menlo Voter --
According to the article above, "the size of the administration building is about 30,000 square feet, according to staff" -- not 72,000 square feet -- so something fishy seems to be going on.

Hey, City Council --
How about:
1. An independent audit of Menlo Park City finances, as suggested by "OLD TIMER"?
2. Spending that windfall on the truly needy, istead of an unnecessary carpet and remodeling job?

I am saddened and even disgusted with the priorities of my fair city's government. There seems to be plenty of money for the very wealthy and those in high city positions, but far too little for those who really need help. And, yes, I am thinking of the stupid and cruel decision to waste $48,000 of our tax money on a new city logo. That money could have provided a decent life for some very needy people for a year. And this $1.2 million windfall should be spent of making life much better for those who really need help, instead of on new carpet and unnecessary reorganization of city offices.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2014 at 8:37 am

Blaming the Unions for our City Management's decisions to throw away taxpayer money is pretty funny. And so wrong. The job is put out for bid, the cost - and actual square footage is being inflated - and we are being lied to. You gonna blame the $48,000 for the stupid logo project on the Unions too? Gimme a break. Spending money on wasteful retreats for Management is the Union's fault? This City Manager is all Fluff and NO Substance and seems intent on misleading the City Council and the public. Take a look at his image all over the Glossy magazine the City paid to send out to resident. Like we're supposed to care that City Staff doesn't put out donuts in the breakroom anymore?! And the City bloated City Government will be patting themselves on the back and shaking hands with a furry Squirrel when they once again pull the wool over the City Council's eyes and throw away the "windfall" on fixing up their palace. The $400,000 contract is probably already signed and sealed for this crony project. Yeah, but it's the Union's fault. Please.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2014 at 8:42 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Louise:

As I said in my previous post, not only does new carpet need to be installed at prevailing wage rates, the old carpet has to be removed and disposed of at prevailing wage rates. In addition, someone said this work has to be done on a weekend. That means overtime on Saturday and double time on Sunday. The carpet removal will be labor intensive as the existing carpet is glued down and has to be scraped up off the subfloor. If you've never done this you don't know how hard it is. I have and I do. In addition to the carpet removal and installation ALL furniture, cubicles, equipment etc has to be removed and reinstalled. Sorry, nothing fishy going on here, just a lot of work being paid for at ridiculous wage rates is all.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2014 at 9:03 am

Carpet removal is hard work. Long hours. Prevailing wages.

Nope. Still does not add up to 400,000 dollars.

What could be missing?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2014 at 9:13 am

The City Council DOES need to Micromanage this City manager. How hard it is to contact Costco or Home Depot to get a bit on some industrial carpet and installation? Do it and let's find out the actual square footage and cost to replace the carpeting. Bet it doesn't even come close to the amount of money the City manager is claiming it will cost.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

Cronyism asks ":what could be missing?" What your missing is any knowledge of construction, specifically public works construction.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Menlo Voter, I am well aware of construction costs, and the bidding process involved the City is supposed to utilize. The City Council is finally starting to ask the right questions and it's becoming evident that our City Manager is way to cavalier about spending taxpayer's money on HIS pet projects that are of little value to the community. I am also aware of the fact that our City Manager is the highest paid city employee with numerous perks, including below market interest loans - interest rates that are lower than than residents in below market housing receive.

The City Manager and his bloated staff in City Hall are making way more than Union employees and costing the City way too much in unnecessary spending while continuing to ignore the more pressing problems like blight, crime, gangs, lack of opportunity, community services and homelessness in Menlo Park. Yes, this money could be better spent in Belle Haven and other areas of town that are in need of attention.

Nice of you to spend your weekend defending the City's wasteful spending. Getting overtime while doing so?
Look, no one is opposed to making necessary improvement at City Hall, but let's look at making some meaningful improvements in our City instead of window dressing..carpeting.. whatever.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 25+ Yr Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I'm not surprised by the city manager's handling of this. Why would he think that the citizens care about careful spending by our city government? We offered him a $1.3 million home loan, at below market rates (I think he only used $1.1 of it)...no private company would have done that for a similar position, then agreed to loan him $360k, at below market rates, to remodel the home. We have allowed him to put us at the top of the heap as to the ratio of city employees to residents, as well as the logo mess, the retreat ridiculousness, etc. etc. Why surprise?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Cronyism:

I'm not defending the city's wasteful spending, I'm just trying to bring some reality into the discussion as to what things cost. I haven't been in the city hall in a while so I don't know what condition they're in. If they're in good condition then I'm with you, we don't need to spend the money to replace them.

Oh, and I don't make overtime. I'm management.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Math
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

According to my calculator, $400,000 divided by 30,000 sqft. equals $13.33 per square foot, which seems quite reasonable to me. Perhaps you should all check your long division.

According to the story, the carpet is 15 years old. In high-traffic areas like public buildings, that's a long time. It's a long time in a residential building, so I don't see what the problem is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighttob
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 10, 2014 at 8:04 am

how much could the cost be rduced if thee were no consultant involved ? Was his figured into the grand scheme of the project ?
Consultants always seem to find a way to add $$ rather than save.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2014 at 11:06 am

A couple of points:

-- Any citizen volunteers stepping up to install the 30,000 square feet of carpet for free? Or were you hoping to use non-union uninsured day-labor you could pick up standing outside of Home Depot?

-- Note that the project also reconfigures the 30,000 square foot interior space to make the building more efficient and user (citizen)-friendly.

There are individual houses in MP that spend $1.2m to renovate 1/10th the space, 3,000 square feet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

but not w/ taxpayers money do homeowners update their homes
Good point - what is the fees for the "consulstant"? Hope it is not the same one who thought we should upgrade the MP tree logo


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Posted by downtown parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

I was just looking a fairly nice, durable commercial carpet at Home Depot the other day. $2-3 per sq ft installed. That equates to $60-90,000.

If you go to Abbey Carpet or another high-end place you can easily find carpet that costs more, but is not necessary. Especially with taxpayer money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Can anyone tell me a legitimate reason that the carpet installation cost for Menlo Park City Hall should exceed the Home Depot cost for commercial carpet installation?

Illegitimate reasons would include:
- overpaying cronies
- overpaying unions
- somebody else's money, so who cares


 +   Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

City staff figures represent carpet replacement cost at approx $135/yd. Most info sources on internet show best quality commercial carpet installed at a high end price of $50-$55/yd including removing the old carpet. However removing and floor prepping of glued down carpet adds to the cost as does moving furniture and cubicle walls (would like to see a breakdown where the furniture and cubicle moving is placed - under the general renovation budget or the carpet replacement - hopefully no charging twice for that).

Then there's the big potential cost of asbestos abatement. Hopefully the carpet, pad, backing and glue will be tested. If asbestos is present abatement costs are very expensive for the removal and special disposal of all that carpet. But even in that case the whole process shouldn't be more than $100/yd or about $100K less than staff has presented.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Is Mr. McIntyre the same fellow who is prominently featured in the 4-color, glossy brochure/magazine I received last week that included full-page letters from city staff including the police chief and photos of city employees who won awards (each taken with the same smiling man)? I recycled the mailer, but not before noting that it was dated like a quarterly publication, and that it seemed much more self-serving than informative and valuable. I wish I still had it to see if it came from the same person, count the pages of card stock, and check the postage. If this mailer came from the same office, then I would completely agree with others that we may be seeing the fast creep of spending out of control. If the mailer came from someone else, then I still think it was a waste of time for everyone who put it together and money to print and mail, but apologize for the negative inference.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

whatever:

If the carpet is only 15 years old there won't be any asbestos in the carpet or pad and no testing will be required.

$50 - $55 per yard is for non-union, non-prevailing wage installation and as you note, does not include moving, removal or replacement of furniture, equipment or fixtures. Think about how much furniture and equipment will need to be moved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I am sure!
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2014 at 9:04 am

Budget?. What's a budget? How about making the affected employees pay for it. All of a sudden, the word."frugal" would be added to their limited vocabulary. Of course, this City Council will just try to accommodate the city administrators and look good in the process. Money is no object.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Really
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 11, 2014 at 11:59 am

In response to I am sure - Are you asking the city workers to pay for new carpet? Do workers pay for the carpeting at your office building????


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

to "I am sure" and friends...
The employees of Menlo Park didn't sign up to be verbally attacked. How would you feel if your wife/son/daughter worked for the city?

Personally, I think MP employees should walk out -- but they need their jobs and must endure constant disrespect.

I take the view that much of their salary is not only related to the cost of living on the Peninsula, but having to work in an extremely hostile environment.

BTW---I've never worked for the city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

When funds are appropriated from regular citizens and misused, hostility is the result. Perhaps our so-called public servants should try setting an example of stewardship of our limited resources through frugality and common sense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

You have no proof that funds were "appropriated and misused." You are carelessly making criminal charges.

Who specifically stole funds and how much was stolen? Where did the money go? Have you tracked it? Where is your proof of theft? Are you really suggesting that MP employees stole money?

Language is serious. Making charges is serious -- beware of your hyperboles. You are slandering people and clearly quite comfortable doing so.

The bill for this project is not outrageous, given the scope of work and length of the project. AND...it is affordable. Menlo Park is not Oakland or Cleveland.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CRONYISM yet again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

>>Personally, I think MP employees should walk out -- but they need their jobs and must endure constant disrespect.

Yes, the City Manager could do us all a favor and walk out. And take his bloated staff, the stupid Squirrel, the retreats and the wasteful spending on Logo projects with him.

The City Manager has been disrespectful to the community by wasting our money on his pet projects and failing to address issues that are relevant to the community. Bring in a leadership team that engages the community and promotes community values instead of just promoting themselves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

@I'm sure. So you want city employees to work out side there scope of employment. So you will be more than willing to pay their disability should they get hurt moving furniture. Get real.


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