Guest opinion: Atherton blog has two points of view
Last week's guest opinion by Walter Sleeth was titled: "Misuse of social media by 'Athertonians' Blog"
I have been friends of Mr. Sleeth and his wife Judy for more than a decade. In early June, Wally and I respectfully discussed our positions on having a town vote regarding moving the library to Holbrook-Palmer Park and those positions have been posted on the Athertonians website since June 5.
While I support a town vote, Mr. Sleeth believes our elected representatives are empowered to make the decision. And he believes I am a moderator of the Athertonians website. I am not. I have stated this frequently. I do not know Yahoo Group policy and do not have any beliefs regarding such a policy. I did not make a decision to remove anyone from the list.
However, I am concerned that the town might build a 10,000-square-foot or larger library in the park at the expense of other park resources and that it will have trouble filling the library. The ballot statement does not state a size limitation for the library.
Last October the Athertonians conducted a detailed survey of its membership regarding their opinion about moving the library to the park. One hundred and eighty-one people responded. Comments both pro and con are posted on the website. Approximately 30 percent of those responding favored moving the library to the park, and several expressed their reasons why. Thus the site contains an exchange of viewpoints.
After this survey was taken, one member of the City Council who favored moving the library to the park instructed the city attorney to "shut them (the Athertonians) down." I believe this position violates the First Amendment and have expressed that position at council meetings. The Almanac published an editorial with a similar viewpoint.
Since that editorial there have been several letters critical of the moderators of the Athertonian blog. Yet questions asked about the library in the park go unanswered. Hopefully, in the future those questions will be answered.
Can the energy to shut down the Athertonians and discredit them be focused on answering questions about the library? How many Atherton residents a day visit the library? For how long per visit? Atherton residents make up what percentage of the usage?
With the Menlo Park library so close, why do we need a larger Atherton library? Would it be less of an environmental impact to just do a seismic upgrade of the existing 4,800 square foot facility?
What happens during the winter when the park closes at 5 p.m. and the library is still open? What are the traffic concerns? Would residents prefer to keep the library near other town buildings? Is there a better use for the park land than moving a library to the park?
Charles Marsala is a former Atherton Town Council member.