Atherton library: Traffic on residents' minds

Deadline for public comments on the draft EIR is May 7

Traffic was on the minds of most of the speakers addressing the Atherton Planning Commission on April 25, as the commission reviewed the draft environmental study of the planned library in Holbrook-Palmer Park.

Lisa Costa Sanders, the town's deputy planner, said that about five people from the public spoke at the meeting, most voicing concerns over the traffic increases expected to result if the town proceeds with plans to build a library of about 10,000 square feet in the park.

The public has until 5 p.m. Monday, May 7, to comment on the draft environmental impact report (EIR).

At last week's meeting, the Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the City Council that it allow the commission to review the final EIR, Ms. Costa Sanders said. The final report is expected to be released sometime in June, and the tentative schedule for reviewing that document doesn't include Planning Commission review.

One resident who has been especially vocal about projected traffic increases on Watkins Avenue resulting from building a new library is Anne McNertney, whose house is near the corner of Watkins and El Camino Real.

That intersection has been identified by the draft EIR as being heavily affected by construction of a new, larger library -- whether it's built in the park or in the Town Center, where the existing, seismically unsound facility now stands.

Ms. McNertney, who has spoken at the recent commission and council meetings, opposes a mitigation measure identified in the draft EIR that would create a right-turn lane from Watkins onto northbound El Camino Real, telling the council that the street is "enough of a raceway now."

At the April 18 council meeting, she asserted that such a turn lane would directly impact her property, devaluing it to a point that would constitute a condemnation.

The current "level of service," or LOS, at that intersection is already rated F for peak morning traffic. (LOS ratings range from A to F, with F indicating the worst level of delays for vehicles navigating the intersection.)

For peak afternoon traffic, it is now rated D, but is expected to drop to E even without the library in the park. But with construction of a larger library, peak afternoon traffic is expected to cause delays at the intersection that will earn an F rating, the draft EIR says.

A second problematic intersection that will worsen with construction of a larger library is Watkins Avenue and Middlefield Road, according to the draft EIR. But the report recommends a traffic signal at the intersection to solve the existing problem of delays and to make the traffic flow tolerable even if the library is built nearby.

Ms. Costa Sanders said that a few speakers at the Planning Commission meeting also voiced concerns over the loss of the park's Main House, which would be demolished to make way for the new library. A number of residents argue that the building is of historic importance.

Comments on the draft EIR should be submitted to Ms. Costa Sanders by 5 p.m. May 7 by email at; or by snail mail: Lisa Costa Sanders, Atherton Town Hall, 91 Ashfield Road, Atherton , CA 94027.


Like this comment
Posted by Newsflash
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Dear Almanac:
An interview with an outsourced City Planner who is billing 35,000 grand a month to string out to both sides this proxy war, and for as long as possible, may not be the most reliable way to present the issue to the public. Please consider getting some input from the Planning commissioners.
Please also note that Portola Valley already has their new Town Center and Library completed--and by a 74,000$ a year in house Planner.
I'm starting to think that ANY third location like Menlo College, might at least get this issue away from those that are waging a very expensive proxy battle in their efforts to append or separate, a new unfunded Town Center onto an already funded regional library.
At least the traffic issue would be better resolved at the College. Do they want it?

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo College- Yes
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Menlo College has not issued an authorized statement. However the Atherton City Council has not offered the funds of a Joint Venture to them. Senior staff members of Menlo College have indicated they like the idea. In return the college could offer classes and programs to the residents of Atherton.

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

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