Almanac

News - April 10, 2013

Atherton residents picked for Town Center panel

by Renee Batti

If the Atherton City Council's most recent vote were a popularity contest, Philip Lively would be the man about town wearing a crown. He was the only candidate of 13 to win the endorsement of all five council members as an appointee to the newly formed Community Center Advisory Committee, which will lead the citizen effort to build the Atherton's new Town Center.

The council met on April 3 to choose seven members of the committee, which will also include Mayor Elizabeth Lewis and Councilman Jim Dobbie, with Councilman Bill Widmer serving as alternate.

The other CCAC members, chosen in one round of council voting, are: Former councilwoman Didi Fisher, Rose Hau and Steve Dostart, who along with Mr. Lively served on an earlier task force that studied options to rebuild the Town Center; and Rick DeGolia, Clive Merredew and Paul Tonelli.

All members of the earlier Town Center task force who applied for the new committee were appointed. Ms. Hau and Mr. Dostart won four of the five council members' votes, and the others were supported by three members.

The CCAC is expected to work for 12 to 18 months to shepherd the Town Center project, which will replace the aging and in some cases decrepit buildings that house the town's police station, administrative offices, library, and public services.

Mayor Lewis noted at the start of the April 3 meeting that the effort to plan for and build a new center might serve to bring community members together on common ground — an appealing notion given the rancor and divisiveness that flared over an earlier plan to build the town's library in Holbrook-Palmer Park.

The plan had divided the council as well as the community, with only three council members — Jim Dobbie, Bill Widmer and Kathy McKeithen, now off the council — supporting it. It was defeated overwhelming in a November ballot measure, and as a result, the library is likely to remain in the Town Center.

The resident who was a key player in the effort to build the library in the park, longtime town volunteer Denise Kupperman, also applied for a seat on the new CCAC. She was chair of the advisory committee that focused for two years on the library rebuilding project, and at the meeting told the council that she could provide valuable knowledge gathered during that time "that would benefit the process."

Despite Mayor Lewis' comments about launching a process that might bring the community together, the vote on Ms. Kupperman's membership on the CCAC matched old alliances. She was supported by council members Dobbie and Widmer only.

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