Atherton sets date for 'master plan' meeting

Council will discuss whether to prepare a master plan for all town facilities

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

A special meeting of the Atherton Town Council will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 with a single topic: discussion of a request by the public for a master plan for all town facilities and buildings, including the library.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road in Atherton.

Petitions bearing at least 300 signatures asking for the master plan were presented to the council at its Oct. 19 meeting by former councilmember Didi Fisher, who is part of the Atherton Town Center Task Force, a volunteer group studying options for building a new civic center.

The petition requested a study to include sizing and location of all town facilities, including administration, finance, building, public works, police and library, before making any decisions to move the library to Holbrook-Palmer Park.

The topic of where to put a new library has split the residents of Atherton. At the Oct. 19 City Council meeting, the council voted 3-2 to make town-owned Holbrook-Palmer Park as the "preferred site" for a new library.

The town's Parks and Recreation Commission had recommended to the town in early October that a decision on a library site be postponed until a town-wide survey of residents could be conducted.

The council declined to ask for a survey, so a group of Atherton residents, again headed by Ms. Fisher, emailed a survey to 1,800 town residents, she said. In the 155 first responses, provided to the Almanac by Ms. Fisher last week, residents were nearly even divided about where to put the library.

The current 4,790-square-foot library is housed in a former private residence built in the late 1920s and twice remodeled, and which does not meet current building standards. It is located at 2 Dinkelspiel Station Lane, near the other town administrative buildings.

Funding for the new library will come from property tax revenues that can only be spent on the library. The fund currently has about $5.6 million, and is expected to grow by about $750,000 each year.

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Like this comment
Posted by Survey
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Here are some results from the survey. Responses 155. Highlights are 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% or more had no opinion. With 70% of the survey opposed to the vote of the council to move the library and double its size, hopefully the council will listen to the Park and Recreation Committee and those that were surveyed and put this to a vote. To make it easier to read I am combining Strongly Disagree with Disagree and just calling it “Disagree”. Also Strongly agree is combined with Agree and called “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
23% (36) No Opinion 19% (30) Agree 57% (87)

Replacing the Main House with a
library is not the right thing for the
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
residents Disagree 25% (38) No Opinion 5% (7) Agree 71% (110)

Like this comment
Posted by 3 to 1
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 5, 2011 at 5:38 am

The results of this question in the survey, do not relect a town that is evenly divided, but rather a town that opposes putting the library in the park by a 3 to 1 margin. Twenty percent of the town has "No Opinion" on most of the questions asked.

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)

Like this comment
Posted by local person
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm

The survey was prepared with little attempt at objectivity. The bias is so clearly obvious.
Shame on Ms. Fisher.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom Croft
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Most Atherton residents do not use either the library or the park. I use both; library more than once a week, the park almost daily. Car access to the park is limited, and despite council claims that car parking is adequate, I often find it overfull with cars jammed in unauthorized places. Next to the library is a park seldom used, an area ripe for library expansion. With ebooks coming so Atherton residents can check out and read books from home, I question the need for an expanded library. Expansion may serve county folk, but not Atherton residents. I favor upgrading our library in place.

Like this comment
Posted by Children's Area
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 9, 2011 at 5:02 am

Back about twenty years ago, there were plans to add a children's area towards the park. Why is that not of interest anymore?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm

It's pretty funny that JERRY CARLSON closed the meeting before a MASTER PLAN could be discussed for the NEW TOWN CENTER.

Is a MASTER PLAN just to apply to the LIBRARY or should the theory behind a MASTER PLAN (and thus its wording) also apply to the NEW TOWN CENTER that JERRY CARLSON, ELIZABETH LEWIS and DIDI FISHER are promoting (but we can't afford, and no one wants)?

Sounds like a lot of hypocrisy to me.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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