News - December 28, 2011

Atherton council sets rules for new library in the park

by Barbara Wood

As consultants prepare to analyze the environmental impacts of the new library proposed for town-owned Holbrook-Palmer Park, the Atherton City Council has clarified three aspects of the project.

The actual library design will not be determined until the environmental impact report is completed and Atherton residents have had their say about what they want to see in the new library. In order to make the EIR as complete as possible, however, it needs to look at the "worst-case scenarios" for possible library designs.

Council members agreed at their Dec. 21 meeting that the new library, whatever its final size, will not occupy more than 10,000 square feet of park space — an area about 5,000-square-feet less than now occupied by the park's main house and the patios, walkways and parking areas surrounding it.

The library could be more than 10,000 square feet if it is more than one story.

The council also agreed that the library should be located as far away from the park's historic water tower as possible within the area where the main house currently is.

The town will update the current master plan for the park, the 2005 "Schematic Landscape Master Plan," to show the proposed footprint of a new library in the park as well as showing the existing main house building replaced with a library and the associated changes in the public use of the space.

The existing 82-year-old, 4,790-square-foot library building, located near the town center, could be reused for public uses ranging from town offices, records storage, an art center, school or senior center.

The building would probably be classified as historic, so it would be difficult to get permission to demolish it.


Posted by Is it possible, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

There are a number of details coming out regarding moving the library to the park that give concerns.

1. The current main house is less than 3,800 square feet and houses offices, workshops, the art committee, a staff kitchen, a meeting room, rest rooms, and a storage room to support the park. Does the current Library in the park address the needs of where to re-locate these activites and how much space they will require? Will a 2,500 square foot building need to be built in the park to meet those needs? Who will pay for the new building? Shouldn't the council put this on the agenda and discuss with the residents their plan? Is there a plan? Or do they want to first put in the new library building then come back to the residents and advise more space is needed needed for library walkways, patios, and to replace the existing facilities?

2. How much actual land space does the current library actually consume? There are outdoor gardens, a reading park, and a picnic area.

Is is possible to make these major changes and have the new library still meet the needs that gave reason to building a new library building? The County's and Library Committee's initial reports are that it needs a building 11,000 to 15,000 square feet plus patio, gardens, and walkways to meet the needs of those served by the Atherton Library.

How can the Atherton Council now decide that the total project including patio, gardens, and walkways can be done in less then 10,000 square feet and still meet the space needs for more area? Is this just to get the project approved?

If the plan is just to add 2,000 square feet of building space, why not just remodel the exisitng facility.

Posted by Mr Linden P Wood, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

I agree . if not adding any additional space, why not just remodel completely the existing facility at the current location, saving the park from all crowds, cars, parking, and exhaust fumes? Or, why not go underground more in the new park location . . and put parking, additional space in basement (adding storage, archives, etc). That seems to be the hip way to go in Atherton . . subterranean baby!

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I sent my comments in regarding the scoping of the EIR. It is supposed to give pros and cons of other locations for the library, including its current location, and a new location near the Town Center.
Unless it has already been pre-determined that the EIR will conclude that the library is the best spot, why are all these changes to Master Plans, and setting of parameters for the library in the park, being made now? It certainly makes me wonder whether the EIR will truly be an un-biased review of the alternatives.

Posted by William Park, a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jan 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I agree . . put the horse before the cart! . . . Planning 101 folks

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Given the contentiousness of this issue IF the EIR is not an un-biased review of the alternatives then it will be challenged and undoubtedly will be ruled as inadequate. The time and cost of a second EIR would be considerable.

All concerned would be wise to approach this project with very careful attention to process as any mis-steps in the process will be used to derail whatever alternative is pursued. Hidden agendas will not stay hidden, prohibited serial meetings will be exposed and inappropriate use of library funds will be quickly uncovered.

Posted by 3-2, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 2, 2012 at 11:30 am

Prediction: EIR gets approved 3-2. There will be no second EIR.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

IF the EIR is defective that will be determined by the courts, not by the Town Council.

Hopefully the EIR will not be defective and it will carefully consider all of the alternative sites for the library including the legally mandated alternative of No Project.

Posted by Smell the Coffee Burning, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

After reading the Daily News article on the Redwood City library, I've got to wonder if the new Atherton library will also include a coffee concession. Seems to work for other libraries.

That would truly be a nice addition. Imagine, enjoying a warm drink while reading your digital newspaper on the outdoor patio. That would really make it a community center.

And, talk about convenience. You could drop by the Park to pick up your coffee rather than waiting in the long lines at Petes!

Would the Council need to allow a commercial businesses? Since we're going down this path, why not let Keplers operate the library!

Posted by Coffee, a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 7, 2012 at 11:25 am

They can test the coffee at the existing site before building an $8,000,000 building.

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