Wednesday: Atherton may name project manager for Town Center

Finalizing a contract with mack5, the company chosen to manage the building of a new Atherton Town Center, will be on the agenda when the Atherton City Council meets on Wednesday, July 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Atherton Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road.

The proposed agreement allows mack5 to bill up to nearly $900,000 for managing and advising the town on the design, construction and occupancy of the new civic center complex, a process that is expected to take close to three years, according to the staff report.

According to mack5's website, the company has provided project, cost and construction management services to a long list of clients, including the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, as well as Canada College and Stanford University.

Also on the agenda is a proposal to increase the limits on the amount of money town staff can spend without a formal bidding process.

The proposed limits are $25,000 for professional services and $30,000 for everything else, an increase from the current $15,000 limits. Purchases will still be limited to items that are in the town's budget.

The council will also hear a report on a survey of Parker Avenue homeowners. The town has been wrestling with the issue of how to deal with homeowners who have used part of the street's 70-foot-wide right-of-way, a legacy of ancient plans to make the street a major thoroughfare, as if it were part of their property.

The town had proposed giving the owners of each 7,800-square-foot lot a part of that right-of-way. But a staff report on the results of the survey shows only four property owners in favor of the gift, with 11 opposed and six not responding. Comments on the survey indicate an increase in property taxes to be a major reason for not wanting the additional property.

The staff report, prepared by Deputy Town Planner Lisa Costa Sanders, recommends the town give up on the transfer of the right-of-way and instead use revisions to the town's Encroachment Ordinance to deal with the problems on Parker Avenue.


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Posted by Hold on...
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:34 pm

How much money has been raised for the town center so far? This was sold to residents on a ballot measure as coming from all private donations. The city should not be spending $900,000 of taxpayer money unless an appreciable amount of funding has already been raised.

What am I missing?

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Posted by Barbara Wood
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:16 am

In response to "Hold On's" question - The fundraising campaign will officially start in the fall, according to town officials. However, by that time they hope to already have commitments for most of the funds that are needed for the project. The fundraising will be done by an independent committee, not the town council, although members should be part of the committee. The town also has about $10 million in library funds and $2 million in other funds set aside to replace some town offices that will also go toward the project.
The $900,000 is over the life of the contract with the project manager and not something that will be paid upfront. The project manager will help to hire an architect, which will probably also happen in the fall, with the design of the civic center perhaps being completed by next February, according to town officials.

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Posted by Hold on...
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:54 am

All that is well and good, but it's not how this project was sold and authorized by the voters. We voted on using private funds only. It seems like the private donations are coming last in order rather than right up front, where they should be. $900,000 of taxpayer money should not be getting spent here, either all at once, or over the life of the project. Management of the project is part of the cost of the project, no different than the bricks and construction crew.

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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Some of the homeowners didn't get the survey. Lisa started by saying "While abandonment remains the best policy decision given the size of the right-of-way and lack of future need by the Town," The City Manager recommended abandonment. I am guessing over 50 residents have written the city in favor of abandonment. Parker has the largest city right-a-way in all of Atherton 70 feet. Other streets that compare to Parker are 30 ft. to 40 ft. Atherton should do what is the BEST POLICY for the town.

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