Atherton is on schedule to start construction of a new civic center by the end of the year, but first it will ask voters to allow using more public money to pay the $37.3 million estimated cost of the complex, which will include a new library; a police station; and town administration, planning and building offices.
On Feb. 15, the Atherton City Council approved the final design of a new civic center and its $37.3 million cost estimate. Included in the cost is close to $15 million the town already has set aside for a new library and renovation and reuse of the historic council chambers building. The police station and the town administration, building and planning offices, plus a combined council chamber and emergency operations center, are estimated to cost an additional $22.3 million.
The estimates include money already spent on design of the new complex.
The council also agreed to put an advisory measure on the June 6 ballot that would allow the town to use money it already has in its coffers to help pay for the civic center.
In 2012, Atherton voters approved a measure that said donated funds should be the primary source paying for new town facilities. But Atherton Now, the group formed to raise money for the civic center, has raised far less than its goal of $25 million.
The June ballot measure will read: "Should the Town of Atherton supplement private donations with available non-dedicated General Funds to meet the funding shortfall, where one exists, for construction of the new Town Center?"
The measure would not allow any new taxes to pay for the civic center, but would allow the town to borrow money to pay for construction and repay it from the general funds.
Council members still hope the town will raise the needed money with donations.
The council also gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that will control hobby use of drones in Atherton. The ordinance prohibits non-licensed, or hobby, drones in Holbrook-Palmer Park. Commercial use in the park, such as for photography, will require a town permit.
The ordinance also prohibits using any sort of camera or recording device with a hobby drone. If the drone has recording capability, it must be disabled to use it legally in Atherton, even on private property.
Different rules apply to commercial and government use of drones, which are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration and require a license to operate.
The ordinance requires a second reading and final approval, scheduled for March 15, and would go into effect April 14.