Examining impact of new Atherton library

Public is asked what to include in environmental report on proposed library

By Barbara Wood

Special to the Almanac

The public has a chance to say what should be included in an environmental impact report on the the proposed new Atherton library. A meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, in the Atherton Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

Where to put a new library has proved controversial in Atherton as has discussion of how big the library will be. The topic of this meeting, however, will be to determine the scope of the environmental impact report for a new library, which must be done before plans can be approved.

The council decided by a 3-2 vote at its Oct. 19 meeting to choose town-owned Holbrook-Palmer Park as the "preferred site" for a new library.

The council was acting on the recommendation of the Atherton Library Building Steering Committee. The committee has spent the past two years drawing up a plan for replacing the town's current library, located near the town center in an 82-year-old, 4,790-square-foot building that does not meet current seismic safety standards.

The town has about $5.6 million in a fund that must be spent on the library, and that fund is expected to grow to $8.3 million by 2013.

The EIR will look at building a library proposed to be between 9,800 to 13,000 square feet, depending on how the City Council decides to use the interior of the building. The existing Main House in the park would be demolished and the existing library building would be used for other public uses.

The EIR looks at impacts of the proposed project -- such as traffic, parking and noise -- and the effects on historic resources, air and water quality, and endangered species. The report also must look the impact of alternatives to the proposed project, including no project.

The town has suggested that alternatives to be examined in the study include: a smaller library in the park; a library in another site in the park; a library on the existing library site; and a library elsewhere in the Town Center.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Yes to EIR
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

Doing an EIR is a great idea! How about a spread sheet with the six options listed across the top of the page as a heading:

1. 11,000 square foot library in the park; 2. 8,000 square foot library in the park, 3. Library at another site in the park; 4. A library on the existing library site; and 5. a library elsewhere in the Town Center.

And then list vertically the questions and concerns of the residents of the town and provide an answer under each location option. And rank the locations with 1-5 points for the location that best meets that concern. Maybe some concerns get more weight. The train noise in the park is less, but the noise from the sports fields will be greater.

Here is a list of 25 EIR questions to start:

EIR Questions and Concerns:

1. Does building an 11,000 square foot library in the park go against the Town's General Plan and the Park Master Plan to promote open space?

2. If the Library leaves its current building and turns that building over to the town and the building needs $500,000 in seismic safety improvements, where does the money come from? Could that money be used for something else?

3. Is the Library giving the town an unsafe building and the costs that go with making that building safe?

4. What is the value of the park land the town will turn over to the library? $2,500,000 per acre? How many acres?

5. What is the footprint of the current main house?

4. What is the square footage of living space of the main house?

5. What is the current amount of Green Space in the Park for fields?

6. The Project Description notes that "some of the existing uses the Main House... maybe absorbed by other facilities".....That needs to be a yes or no-- not a maybe. Each Main House existing activity should be accounted for in the future. What happens to the offices, meeting rooms, and storage the main house provides to the Foundation and Dames, Park Maintenance, Park Activity Supervision, Art Committee, rental income, and catering?

7. Will there still be a need for those activities to be housed in the park? Will more open space be taken as those Main House Activities are relocated? If we can relocate those uses to provide space for the library, why not do that anyway and tear down the main house?

8. It does not seem many of the uses of the Main House can be be replaced with a Library. The Main House activities still need to exist. Where and how much space do they need? 2,000 square feet? More?

9. How much square footage of parking will the library need?

10. While there may not be any new parking spaces needed for the library, is there a surplus of parking spaces and could some of the existing spaces be converted to green space?

11. What is the total "Open Space" that will be lost from the Library, walkways, patio, parking, landscape, relocating existing main house activities? In the end the Library may take up an acre or more of the park.

12 What is the cost to the town to relocate the exisitng users of the main house?

13. At $5,000 per wedding; the town makes $90,000 per year in rental income. How will the town make up the $90,000 a year in lost rental income to support the park once the Main House is gone?

15. Could the $90,000 be increased by additional rentals?

16. One stated objective in the New Town Cener Project Description is to house all employees in the same building as the City Manager. Moving them into the existing library goes against that objective. What EIR problems to people will result from the city manager being in a different facility than the staff he manages?

17. Option keeping the library where it is- Would a two story library designed to mitigate train noises benefit the town by keeping the Park as Open Space?

18. Could the library expand where it is?

19. Does the EIR scope factor in lost rental revenue from the main house being torn down? And how the Park will be impacted from that lost revenue for maintenance and capital projects?

20. Are there alternatives that would attain most of the project's basic objectives and lessen any of the significant effects of the project on other parts of the town?

21. What are the objectives of the project?... The County says we need a library twice the size we have, but less than half the people come from Atherton. Does Atherton even need more library space?

22. Is the objective to build a library large enough to meet the needs of San Mateo County, parts of Menlo Park, and Atherton?

23. Assuming the extra people the library will bring to the park and those people will stay and use park facilities. How will the extra wear and tear and repairs on those park facilities be funded?

24. Why not consider partnerships with any of the numerous schools in Atherotn as solutions? There are five middle school, three high school, and one college library in Atherton. Menlo College is adding an MBA program and will remodel its library. San Jose has done a partnership with San Jose State on a library.

25. Can the EIR do a survey of the residents of the town and factor in the desires and needs of the people paying for this project?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

First Sunnyvale, then Australia: Mountain View's Le Plonc plots expansion
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,445 views

Juggling Renewables
By Sherry Listgarten | 35 comments | 1,933 views

Premarital and Couples: Living as Roommates?
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,399 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 678 views

A trial run
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 522 views


The Almanac Readers' Choice ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "The Almanac Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 17th issue of The Almanac.