Wednesday: Atherton council reviews plan for civic center


The recommended conceptual plan and budget for Atherton's new civic center will be reviewed by the Atherton City Council when it meets Wednesday, Oct. 7, starting at 4 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

If the council is happy with the plan recommended by its Civic Center Advisory Committee, it can authorize the architect, WRNS Studio, to move on to the next phase of designing the town's new library, and the administrative and police offices.

The council also plans to review the charter of the Civic Center Advisory Committee.

The civic center design shows a new two-story, 27,000-square-foot building for police, administration and council chambers. The building would be made up of two wings joined by a common lobby and located near Fair Oaks Lane.

A new one-story library of slightly less than 10,000 square-feet would be located near the site of the existing library. The existing historic council chambers building would be renovated and serve as an extension of the new library. There would also be a small police garage building. The existing small corporation yard building, where the town stores maintenance and emergency equipment, would be retained.

The advisory committee has recommended one change in the building placement, moving the new council chambers from where it is shown on the plans and placing it at the end of the police building, away from Fair Oaks Lane.

More expensive

Mack5, the consultant hired by the city to manage the civic center project, said that the conceptual design favored by the committee is more expensive than what had been envisioned in the original civic center master plan. The estimate shows the amount of money that would need to be raised to build the favored plan is close $27.2 million, about $2.2 million over the amount the advisory committee had said it would be comfortable with as a goal for fundraising.

The report says that the total cost of the project is now $42.9 million and can be reduced to $38.4 million by taking out some added features. The library cost, which comes from tax money that has been specifically set aside for the library, would be $13.5 million and town building fees that have been allocated for new building offices would cover $2.2 million.

The consultants say the project is due to start at least 18 months behind the original schedule, and this has added $2.8 million to the cost because of escalating construction expenses. When the master plan for the project was approved, a start date of July 2015 was projected.

Other higher costs include $1.3 million for increasing the size of the administration and police buildings, $2 million for a photovoltaic system, and $800,000 for increasing the contingency fund from 10 percent to 12 percent.

Also on the agenda is a council discussion about asking the Menlo Park Fire Protection District for a contribution to the new civic center. The contribution would be in exchange for the fire district's use of a new emergency operations center in the civic center, or the use of the civic center as a place to stage fire equipment.

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Like this comment
Posted by Turley
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Just a thought: With all the upgrades and regulations, where is Atherton's plan for any affordable housing? If Menlo Park got in trouble for not offering anything of this kind, where do Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley stand on this?

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:16 am

really? is a registered user.

Atherton's achieved its affordable housing requirement through reclassification of a number of existing units. A change in policy allows an owner in a house exceeding 5000 sf to deem their Au-Pair's bedroom, housekeeper's apartment over the garage, or basement maids room as contributing to the affordable stock of the Bay Area. This has been a win-win for everyone as it accounts for what was before seen as useless/underused floor space, while protecting the uniquely scenic qualities of the Atherton Village character from the blight that social housing can bring.

I can only hope that such a progressive attitude can be taken up by other communities.

Like this comment
Posted by Turley
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:48 am

Thank you "really?" for that information, I remember 50 years ago when Woodside and Portola Valley had outbuildings/quarters for workers on large properties, such as Webb Ranch. However, the majority of service workers do NOT live anywhere near Atherton, even though they have worked there for decades. Are there any housing options available to them? They are vital to our community, and shouldn't have to commute in from Modesto or somewhere that far.

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

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