Almanac

News - October 5, 2011

Atherton to unveil visions of new Town Center

by Renee Batti

Two visions of what the civic heart of town might look like if Atherton decides to revitalize its Town Center will be unveiled at a community meeting set for Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the Holbrook-Palmer Park Pavilion.

The meeting, from 6 to 9 p.m., will allow residents to examine designs by two firms that participated in a conceptual design competition spearheaded by the Atherton Town Center Task Force, a group of residents, and council members Elizabeth Lewis and Jerry Carlson. That group, formed in March 2010, has explored possibilities for rebuilding the Town Center, located on Ashfield Road next to the Caltrain station.

The two firms, Nichols Melburg and Rossetto, and Siegel & Strain Architects, drew up their designs at no cost to the town.

Town officials have long talked about replacing the 46-year-old buildings that now constitute the Town Center, citing inadequate space for the police department and the fact that building and planning services are administered from trailers that were supposed to be temporary. There are also health and safety code violations that must be corrected if the existing buildings remain, according to the town.

The town now has about $1.8 million set aside for beginning the project, but the task force is counting on residents opening up their wallets, as Portola Valley residents did, to pay for the bulk of the work.

One complicating question will be the location of the town's planned new library, which has become a contentious issue among residents. Many people would like to see a new library built in Holbrook-Palmer Park, and say that the library's existing home in Town Center can be put to good use housing the building and planning departments.

Others argue that the library belongs in Town Center, and that renovating and seismically retrofitting the existing facility will be cheaper than building a new library elsewhere.

Contact Deputy City Clerk Theresa DellaSanta at 752-0529 for more information.

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