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Original post made
on Sep 7, 2011
I question why this is the time for Atherton to spend to build a larger library when other libraries are nearby and while the internet and allied developments are spawning many things profoundly changing the future role and usefulness of a large physical presence by the local library. This would be a large investment in an old technology.
I do understand that the new library is planned to have more capacity for patron access to computers. I speculate that there are few, if any, homes in Atherton that have no computers.
I do understand that funds are on hand and segregated for this purpose. Just because one has money does not mean it should be spent.
Cass, your remarks are very perceptive. The 11,000 sq ft library in Holbrook Palmer Park is in reality a Community Center and not a library. You are right in that the old library model is no longer valid. The question is if Atherton residents want to build a community center for non-Atherton residents in their one and only park. They have planned a special room with 17 computer terminals and most will be be for the useof non-Atherton residents. Porno viewers are already a problem in the existing library.
Unfortunately the $5 million earmarked for library use is burning a hole in the library peoples pockets whereas it is sorely needed for Town of Atherton operations.
Atherton has no center except for Library area. This library has served us well. My family goes back many years and several generations have used this one.
Why not keep it where it is and add to it? It is user friendly by all age groups. Spend your money to improve it.
Parks are special places and I have seen many towns fill up their empty spaces with clutter. Please consider what happens when soccer, baseball, etc. is added. And lets not forget High Speed Rail - what happens to the Library and Holbrook Palmer Park if that comes?
Keep the library where it is. Save the money, keep the park as is. Get rid of the Permit Center and put in a real building. The town does not need another "meeting room" There are plenty of places at HPP to hold meetings.
I am unfortunately unable to attend this or the summer meeting that was held, but I feel we have so much chaos in Atherton right now that we should SLOW DOWN until we have a City Manager again and public works issues are resolved and a manager of Holbrook Palmer Park. My feeling is that with all this in a state of flux we are not making the best decisions. No one is complaining about the current library--we except it for what it is and I am grateful to have such a nice library in our town!!
The Council is not empowered to make this choice without a referendum.
Any decision to forever change the park, whether it be a stadium or a library, should be put before the voters. To think otherwise smacks of arrogance on the part of the elected officials.
I certainly didn't intend to grant them the ability to spend $5.5 million or destroy an historical landmark,
The library should be modernized ... right where it is! Frankly, with advance in technology, the current footprint should be adequate.
The council could decide this by a 3-2 vote- with a different council it could be 2-3. One person should not decide the fate of Atherton's only open space.
Let someone write a statement in favor and someone write a statement opposed. Why are we going to use Atherton dollars to build a regional library in our only open space? How many extra cars a day are will be driving into Atherton? 200? 300? more?
Why would the council support a Regional Library in Atherton, when it has opposed the M-A Arts Center and Cargill because of of increased traffic?
There are already libraries at the many schools in Atherton: M-A, Menlo, Sacred Heart, St. Joe's, and Menlo College. The Menlo Park library is nearby. Why does Atherton have to build a Regional Library? How many Atherton residents use it compared to non-Atherton residents?
The Council is calling this a Community Center. Have they surveyed Atherton residents to see if they would use a Community Center. Where will the money come from to have a Community Center staff person?
let us vote states "The council could decide this by a 3-2 vote- with a different council it could be 2-3. One person should not decide the fate of Atherton's only open space."
I agree this should not be a decision made by the Council but by the Atherton community as a whole. However, it appears the fix is in and Parks and Recreation Committee and Library Committee will likely vote to recommend the Park building with the Council voting on this proposal in their October 19th meeting. I think most Atherton do not know this can go forward that quickly and the process needs to be stopped in its tracks before a huge mistake is made.
Aside from the use of our open space the big and more urgent issue is for the Council and residents to deal with the current town council building and the buildings housing the police department and administration offices. Both buildings are unsafe both seismically and do not meet fire and OSHA standards. The police department spaces are inadequate to conform to personnel issues involving male and female dressing rooms and spaces and the physical plant is just worn and beyond repair. Part of the police functions are being operated out of a trailer.
The proposed prelimimary architect's drawings for a new Town Center are scheduled to be revealed in early October. It is appropiate for a new or remodeled library (and not a Community Center) be included and considered in that complex and not as a stand alone building in Park.
IF citizens are really concerned then petition for a Special Meeting to discuss and decide putting this matter on the ballot for citizens to decide:
Special meetings may be called at any time by the mayor, or by three members of the city council, or by a petition bearing a minimum of one hundred signatures of adult residents of the town. (Ord. 382, 1980: Ord. 344 Ch. 1(e) § 1, 1976)
Thank you Peter for the information. I think Mayor Dobbie would be the best place to start in calling a special meeting.
How about it, Jim?
The reason for using a citizen petition rather than the good offices of the Mayor is that it would demonstrate real concern.
If you can't get 100 citizens to petition for a meeting don't expect the Council to be very concerned.
Truth be Told,
Those are good points.
Both the Library in the Park and Town Center could be placed on the same ballot and the council could base its decision on more than 70 people.
It seems there should be resources of the Library that could be shared by staff if the library was in walking distance from other Town Buildings.
Add to the ballot if the Residents want a Community Center. With the Circus Club,nearby Country Clubs, and Menlo Park; who has the time to attend more events at a Community Center. Where does the tax dollars come from to organize these events?
Someone would spend more than a week getting 100 signatures. Recently the Menlo Council put development plans to the residents for a vote. They did not require the residents to spend days getting signatures.
Why did the Council sue to block construction of the M-A Preforming Arts Center? Extra traffic into Atherton.
Remember last year the Atherton neighbors sued to stop the lights at M-A. Extra Traffic in Atherton. Now the council is fine with building a Regional Library in our Park? No concerns about traffic? No concerns about extra costs to maintain the Park due to extra use? No concerns that parking might be a problem?
If you can't get 100 citizens to sign a petition on this issue then why should the Town go to the expense of having an election?
TECHNOLOGY CHANGES RAPIDLY
1) Yes, I agree with comment to slow down. Technological change is rapid, buildings take several years. With free wifi going in downtown PA and laptops/tablets becoming ubiquitous, do we need computer terminals for personal use in the library? Hard copy books, CDS and DVDS rather than more downloadable titles? How much of each, for how long? A tough time to design space for a library of the future. Give it a few years....what is there seems adequate.
BUDGETS ARE CHANGING
2) The Peninsula Library System (PLS) is a consortia of city libraries, the county library branches; and the 3 community college libraries. All funded in their own ways. I suspect Atherton residents check out more items at nearby city libraries than they check out at Atherton library. What if one of those nearby city libraries loses funding and open hours; chooses to drop out of PLS as two Santa Clara libraries did with their system; or if one of them gets outsourced to a private firm with lesser or no cooperative privleges? A larger Atherton library could end up picking up slack for a nearby city library's residents while a large city facility goes dark 3 days a week. While PLS is ahead of the curve in sharing resources, they do not share funding or big ticket decision making.
Again, a good time to stall until budgets stabalize and downloadable materials gain ground. Then, space could be planned in a more logical way. And, what's the rush...the current facility is pretty darn nice.
Peter, while your suggestion of getting a 100 signatures would in itself make a statement to the Mayor and council the flip side is that they ought to be worried a bit that they could only muster up about 80 people to attend their dog and pony information session for the library. This cost the Town over $10,000 to produce and probably mostly attended by non-Atherton promoters of the library.
The real issue is the inability to communicate to the town residents by the council coupled with the usual apathy of the residents. About the only way is to get it on a ballot with the pros and cons listed or even a general survey. I fear that even a special meeting would not get much turnout.
If the apathy is so great that you cannot get 100 adult Atherton residents to petition for a special meeting then why should the Council not proceed to approve this project?
Peter you should know all about that with your Committee of 100 collection. Seems like it turned into a table of eight (and they were the usual discontented). As I recall you went away mad lecturing Atherton on their collective apathy and not caring.
As a matter of fact I got better things to do than run around collecting signatures and the job of finding out what Atherton wants. The result of being inattentive for all will be to get something they don't want or need but got to pay for. The job of finding out what Atherton wants (and not the surrounding community)rests squarely on the Mayor and the rest of the Council. Three of them have already expressed they are very uncertain or have reservations if they have know what residents want, how big and where to locate....they just have over $5,000,000 to spend. Hopefully use the ballot or at least a survey might result. Apparently two of the council have their minds made up and one can go either way.
"I got better things to do than run around collecting signatures and the job of finding out what Atherton wants. The result of being inattentive for all will be to get something they don't want or need but got to pay for. "
We get exactly the kind of government and government decisions that we deserve.........
When the Park was donated to the town the council surveyed the residents. No one gathered 100 signatures to ask them to make an agenda item to decide if the residents should be surveyed.
In the last elections, have any of the council members campaigned that they favor putting a Regional Library in the Park? No
Have they debated any of the issues "Retired Librarian" mentions? No
Have they explained why they suddenly are not concerned about increased 200-300 extra cars a day into Atherton? No
Have they explained where the funds come from to pay for the extra maintenance in Park from Library users who then use the Park? No
Folks, we only get to elect council members every two years. In between the only powers that citizens have are to recall a council member, a messy and blunt tool, or to petition for a specific issue. Neither is easy.
If you cannot be bothered to do either of the above then you have to be prepared to accept the decisions of our duly elected council.
As I said, we get exactly the kind of government and government decisions that we deserve.........
Peter, thanks again for the civics lesson but you are not quite up to date.Recalls are difficult and expensive, and I am not sure we have a petition process in Atherton.
The simple and most effective way to interact with the Town Council is to send them an email and tell them what you think. Just takes a few minutes and is free.
Here are their email addresses.
Truth be told states:"Peter, thanks again for the civics lesson but you are not quite up to date.Recalls are difficult and expensive, and I am not sure we have a petition process in Atherton."
I might be useful to actually read my posts before commenting in them.
As I stated:"the only powers that citizens have are to recall a council member, a messy and blunt tool, or to petition for a specific issue. Neither is easy." And "Special meetings may be called at any time by the mayor, or by three members of the city council, or by a petition bearing a minimum of one hundred signatures of adult residents of the town. (Ord. 382, 1980: Ord. 344 Ch. 1(e) § 1, 1976)"
Individual emails to the council from a handful of people will, appropriately, have zero impact.
Letters and emails to your City Council have just about as much impact as those letters and emails you write to your Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC.
The best part of having a City Council is that they meet very often right in your own hometown! For that reason, the most impact a citizen can have is speaking to your representatives DIRECTLY.
Yes, it takes a bit of time - about an hour or so from the time you leave your home until you return - but you will have the unique opportunity of walking up to a microphone, facing your elected officials and telling them what you think. I'm always surprised with how few of you take the few minutes to attend a meeting of your city council. Even once!
You may have an impact, you may not. But you will know that you were heard.
If it's important to you, take a moment and talk to your elected officials.
Peter & POGO,
While what you say should theoretically be true, I find that in a Town Council setting letters from constituents do make a difference. With a Council grasping for citizen participation, they are willing to accept it in any form ... phone calls, letters, even anonymous postings to this very website.
Your cynical, purist views on the functioning of our government may have the unintended consequence of discouraging valuable participation. I encourage all residents to keep hammering the Council by any and all mechanisms at your disposal. Go knock on their doors! They signed up for it.
The expenditure of $5 million and a wholesale change in the use of Holbrook Palmer park merits a vote of the populace. What you have now is a small, unrepresentative collection of residents who have their own agenda. It's anything but inclusive.
I'm not sure if residency is a requirement for obtaining signatures, but if a petition were made and if I qualify to get signatures, I'm good for at least 15 any day.
Best of Luck to Atherton residents.
Preliminary reports on the yeas and neas on placing the huge Community Center (aka Library) building in Holbrook Palmer Park indicate that Mayor Jim Dobbie and Kathy McKeithen are for the proposal. The other three may or may not be for the proposal and it is important to contact them as well as the Mayor asking for a delay or placing the issue on a ballot in the next election. Again letters, phone calls and emails are just great ways to express your opinion, and I know all council members will welcome your input. Again the email addresses are listed in the link in the posting above.Please get involved now before it is too late.
Pelosi's legacy -
I suggest you read the posts before you make a comment like "(y)our cynical, purist views on the functioning of our government may have the unintended consequence of discouraging valuable participation."
READ THE POST because you couldn't be more off base. Mr. Carpenter and I are ENCOURAGING citizens to show up to council meetings and state their opinions. If you truly believe that writing emails, letters and posting on The Almanac are as effective as a face-to-face confrontation with your elected officials, you've apparently never been to a council meeting. You use your emails; I promise you that your adversaries will be there in person.
It is easier to ignore an email than a group of concerned neighbors standing ten feet away from you.
POGO you should read the posts and perhaps stick to the thread of the this Almanac article about the public meeting that was held. It was an informational meeting with opportunity to question the various proposals done by a professional presenter. Presumably members of the council were there to listen the reaction. The next step will likely be that it goes to the Parks and Recreation Commission in late September or early October and they are expected to approve and recommend the project go forward as described in the Park. It is possible this will be an agenda item in the October 19th council meeting and they could vote at that time. Right now the council is seeking public input anyway they can. By the time it gets to an agenda item and one gets three minutes to comment it will be too late to change an opinion in all reality.
Pelosi's legacy (whatever that is meant to mean) states:"Your cynical, purist views on the functioning of our government "
Actually Pogo and I are the only two posters who have actually held local elected offices. There is nothing cynical or purists about our views which are based on in-depth personal experience.
Arrogance is defined as "an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions." Web Link
Highfalutin words. Let's bring it down to earth. Arrogance is a derivative of pride which ranks pretty high on the list of seven deadly sins. Arrogance is an unwarranted claim on an undeserved position. It is the absolute antithesis of humility. Arrogance is also the symptom of narcissism and the narcissistic disorder is now the principal qualifier for all forms of government work in the United States. Local, state, national. The one certain characteristic that defines the candidate for elective office; the head of any bureaucracy; be it the police department or the state department; the Federal Reserve or the governor of an insolvent state. We know them all and the one consistent characteristic is they have the answers; they claim to know what is best for everyone. They also speak with spectacular forked tongues. They tell the people what to do; how to live; proper conduct and behavior and then slither in the shadows with their own camouflaged weaknesses.
So, we now know that arrogance is also a cover-up. The advice; the plans; the schemes of the arrogant are substitutes for fundamental behavior. They are easy answers to the self made problems of the undisciplined. They are not solutions. They are avoidances. What the arrogant preach is always going to be the opposite of the difficult but correct path to follow. And that is simply because arrogant behavior is a sure sign of lack of discipline. It is not impossible to be disciplined and still be arrogant but it is impossible to be arrogant and disciplined.
truth (sic) be told -
Threads often, usually, in fact, evolve in different directions. Your latest is yet the latest example. I think encouraging people to go to City Council meetings is pretty important.
My latest post was a response to Pelosi's legacy. If people think that emails or posting in The Almanac are more effective than standing at a microphone and speaking directly to your elected representatives, that's fine.
For me, there is NOTHING more compelling for an advocate of a position than to be able to stand ten feet away from an elected official and state their case. Even if it your time is limited to three minutes - still more time than an elected official will spend with your email - it's a unique opportunity to confront your officials. Your elected officials know that it was important enough for you to take the time to be there and you will leave knowing that, at a minimum, you have been heard.
Do it or don't. I can assure you that your adversaries will be there because they know it is the most effective way to persuade an elected official.
Truth states:"The one certain characteristic that defines the candidate for elective office; the head of any bureaucracy; be it the police department or the state department; the Federal Reserve or the governor of an insolvent state."
Being able to present your views on a specific topic in a coherent manner and with complete sentences is also an essential precondition for having any impact on elected officials.
The moderator said, "Being able to present your views on a specific topic in a coherent manner and with complete sentences is also an essential precondition for having any impact on elected officials."
Since when did the illiterate lose their rights under the Constitution?
I certainly got the point. Googling the sentence leads me to believe "truth be told" was not the author ...
If that's Pelosi's legacy, then for the first time in my life, I feel sorry for her.
Atherton would be better served to save this money in reserve to pay the multiple lawsuits that are bound to occur if they don't wise up and get rid of their police department. Since that appears to be unlikley that money could pay off those future lawsuits.
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