'Master plan' meet reflects divisions over library Atherton, posted by Editor, The Almanac Online, on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm
Atherton residents who requested a special city council meeting about creating a master plan for all town facilities got the discussion they had asked for on Nov. 8, but no resolution, because the council did not vote on the issue.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 10, 2011, 10:52 AM
Posted by Survey, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm
In the past the council has supported doing town surveys on uses for the park. Why the change in attitude?
The Needs Survey done by the County Library has been used to claim that a bigger library is needed. Did less than seventy Atherton residents participate?
Shouldn't Atherton do a larger survey since the park will be forever changed?
Park and Rec's has advised the council to do a survey. That should at least be an council agenda item.
The recent survey was done for free within two weeks. If the ratios of this survey hold, only 20-25% of the town want a regional library in the park.
Why not do an authorized survey before spending $80,000 on an EIR? If a survey showed that the library in the park had hundreds of Atherton supporters, many would feel the spending $80,000 for an EIR was not needed. Just build it.
But if only 25% of the survey support a bigger library and only 25% want it in the park, then maybe it should not happen. I do not think the next survey should have the option "No Opinion".
Inform the residents of pros and cons of the county library in park and accept our vote.
From the last two surveys less than eighty Atherton residents have expressed support for an Atherton-San Mateo County Library in the Park in the l. Maybe there is more support- maybe not. Before the Council moves ahead with a library it should do the survey that Park and Rec has requested.
The Master Plan and potential EIR could be resolved in a very simple manner. Do an electronic survey with a validated email list. The recent survey was done for free within two weeks. Two council members challenged the email list, likewise two council members challenged the Library Needs survey done by the county.
Have staff validate a town email list and work out questions both sides agree to. I am not sure why some council members objected to the wording of the recent questions. They seem to get to the point.
1. Do you want a library in the Park?
2. What size library do you want in the Park?
3. Maybe add a question: "How often do you use the library?"
Here are some results from the recent survey. Responses 155. The Summary is that 70-75% want the town to vote on the issue and 20-30% agree with statements that Atherton wants a bigger library in the park. On several questions 15-25% had no opinion. 70% of the survey opposed the vote of the council to move the library and double its size. To make it easier to read I am combining Strongly Disagree with Disagree and just calling it “Disagree”. Also combining Strongly Agree with Agree and calling it “Agree”.
I believe the library should remain within the Town Center area
Disagree 20% (31) No Opinion 25% (39) Agree 55% (85)
I like the Atherton Library small and quaint the way it is
Disagree 28.5% (45) No Opinion 20% (31) Agree 50% (77)
I think the library needs to be substantially larger
Disagree 58% (88) No Opinion 18% (28) Agree 25% (37)
I like Holbrook-Palmer Park the way it is
Disagree 23% (36) No Opinion 19% (30) Agree 57% (87)
Replacing the Main House with a library is not the right thing for the park
Disagree 21% (32) No Opinion 18% (27) Agree 61% (94
Do you believe that a public library qualifies as a 'recreation' use for a park? Yes 29% (44) No Opinion 16% (25) no 55% (84)
The decision to move the library should be made by a vote of town
Posted by Recall?, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm
If we're looking to measure "the will of the citizens," let's talk about the recall that Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis have threatened against Kathy McKeithen, Jim Dobbie and Bill Widmer.
What Elizabeth Wood did not report is that although Elizabeth Lewis denied at this meeting that she and Jerry Carlson discussed spearheading a recall campaign against these three council members at the last council meeting, Bill Widmer stated, aloud, that he overheard her telling this to her crony, Jerry Carlson.
The problem with this strategy is that Kathy McKeithen has received more votes from the citizens than any other council member over the past ten years. In fact, I think she's received more than everyone else put together.
Next, Bill Widmer received far more votes than Jerry Carlson in the last election.
The will of the voters is for Kathy McKeithen and Bill Widmer to be running this town, not Jerry Carlson and Elizabeth Lewis.
Now, how can someone vote for Elizabeth Lewis for vice mayor next month when she's threatened to recall them? Tell me that.
Posted by Library Rat, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 6:02 am
Looks like this isn't over. The next Council meeting on November 16 has been moved to Holbrook Palmer Park. No, not the new Community Center / Library, but the Pavilion. Guess they're expecting a crowd.
Among the items to be discussed is the Council's consideration of the Park and Recreation Committee's recommendation. Apparently the Council's own rules require them to consider any Committee recommendation.
The Park and Recreation Committee asked the Council to take a survey of the residents. They ignored that recommendation and voted 3-2 to place the Community Center / Library in the Park anyway.
Posted by Heard at the meeting, a resident of the Atherton: Lloyden Park neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 11:45 am
After the meeting Elizabeth and afew residents were again talking recall. Several residents overheard it.
Also why is it that the article which states McKeithen is on the library committee, fails to mention that Lewis and Carlson are on the New Town Center task force that does not want to lose the library and its money. One might see this as a case of sour grapes.
Posted by Because, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Because when elected officials have conflicts of interest, that contaminated the processs.
Jerry Carlson has the biggest conflict. In addition to being on the Town Center Task Force, he's on the board of the Selby Lane school. He's publicly stated he wants the library money to go to improve this school's library.
The public at large does not have access to it.
Add to this his work on the High Speed Rail committee when he just lives a block away from the tracks and his home is uncommonly impacted.
Posted by atherton voter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Peter, your suggestion of a ballot measure is excellent. At this point after seeing the special meeting the issue is so polarizing within the Town Council that no good will come of any decision they make. Rightfully this decision of where to put the library whether a new larger one in the park or a remodel in its existing location is one for the residents to make by vote.
The Town Council needs to pay attention to the routine matters that are their responsibility and sworn duty. By trying to co-opt the process of town committees,citizen input and above respect for their constituents they do not serve well the office of councilmen.
Posted by atherton voter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm
Peter that is a good start and I am in favor of applying the KISS principal. However in order to build a library in the Park you pretty much need to tear down the Main House and Pavilion if you do what the majority of the council has decided to do (11,000 sq ft). So that part probably needs additional language.
The second question probably need to be more narrow to avoid a conflict with a new town center complex. I think you would need to place it in its existing location and be remodeled and enlarged and clarify the restriction to use only library funds to accomplish either project.
On a ballot each side can write their statement why and also write a rebuttal to the other side's statement.
This is not about using any of the library funds for the Town Center, the Town Center was being discussed long before the library had any reserves. Hopefully that distraction can be dropped.
The issue is either a new library in the park or expand at the same place or don't expand and just do the seismic improvements.
Whatever happens, we all support the vote and move on.
Carlson's idea to make a donation to Selby Lane has merit. It makes sense that some kids that don't have books in the Selby Lane Library need to fine a way to get to the Atherton library, the kids could use the books during free time and after school.
Why not puts some books in their library? Sounds like the BookMobile concept. Some books could be on sharing. Sad that Atherton has $5M in its library fund, can spend $80,000 on an EIR to put a library in the park before asking the residents if they even want a library in the park and still can not provide some funds to help the Selby Lane library.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm
I have sent the Council the following:
I note the discussions regarding the location of a new library. This issue is and will become even more divisive and more personal if it continues to be dealt with by the Council. Therefore, I recommend that the Council place this issue in its simplest form before the electorate for their decision.
I appreciate that what I propose could also be done by a petition from 10% of Atherton's registered voters, however I believe that it would be much less divisive and more elegant if the Council took the leadership on placing this matter before the voters.
Posted by Question , a resident of another community, on Nov 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm
If a question came before the Menlo Park fire district to open or close a fire station, don't you think that decision should be made by the fire board, which has the resources and devotes considerable time to make an informed decision, rather than by a popular vote of district residents?
Posted by Question 2, a resident of the Atherton: other neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm
The state puts before the voters items such as High Speed Rail. The Assembly does not make the call. The residents of our state support ballot measures instead of having a small body of elected officals make the call.
Santa Clara City votes for a ballpark, the City Council does not decide the issue.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Nov 20, 2011 at 10:10 am Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online
Question asked what would the Fire Board do in similar circumstances.
On Oct 28 the Fire Board consider a Resolution making fundamental changes in personnel policies - change necessitated by the firefighters' union continued, for over two years, to negotiate. The Board vote 3-2 to adopt this Resolution.
In my nine years on the Fire Board there had never been less than a unanimous vote on any major issue. Therefore, the Board voted on Nov. 15 to reconsider the motion and in the following discussion gave great weight to the concerns of the two Directors who had voted against the motion and the language of the Resolution was changed to address their concerns. The revised Resolution passed 5-0.
The Council's continued division, the latest vote being 2-2 with 1 abstention, indicates an apparently unresolvable conflict. Rather than proceed on such an important issue with divided support amongst the Town Council it would seem much more appropriate to let the voters decide this issue. The Town government is a representative democracy and if the elected representatives cannot, after considerable effort, agree on this important issue then they should refer it to a committee of the whole - the voters.
Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Nov 20, 2011 at 1:43 pm
It's interesting to me that a town who's residents have shown themselves to be extremely apathetic are now displaying a great deal of interest in this issue and they are being ignored by the council. Guess what folks? If you weren't so apathetic about the things happening in your town you probably wouldn't be getting treated this way by the people you elected. You get the government you deserve.