Wednesday: Train horns, civic center design on Atherton council agenda

New mayor, vice mayor to be chosen

The blaring of Caltrain locomotive horns often drowns out speakers at Atherton City Council meetings, but research by a member of the town's Rail Committee says there may be a way that council members can assure they no longer have to compete with the train to be heard.

Rail Committee member Nerissa Dexter's research found Atherton should be able to declare its Fair Oaks Lane railroad crossing a "quiet zone," where train whistles can only be blown if there is a hazard, a report from Community Services Director Michael Kashiwagi says.

The council may decide if it wants to hire a consultant to guide the process of declaring the crossing a quiet zone when it meets Wednesday, Dec. 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

The council has several other items on its agenda: selection of a mayor and vice mayor for the coming year; voting on joining the county's Peninsula Clean Energy program; discussing an update on the design of the new civic center; and budgeting more money for the environmental study of Menlo School and College's Cartan Field project.

Quiet zone

Mr. Kashiwagi's report says that Ms. Dexter found the town can designate a quiet zone and does not need approval by the Federal Rail Administration or any other public agency because Fair Oaks Lane has a "four quadrant gate system" designed and installed by Caltrain that keeps autos off the tracks when they are down.

However, the report says, a quiet zone designation will not be possible at the town's other crossing, at Watkins Avenue, until it has quad crossing gates.

Civic center

The council will receive an update on the design of the town's new civic center from the project's new project manager, Joe Horwedel, a former San Jose planning director and recently the San Benito County interim public works director.

At its most recent meeting, the town's Civic Center Advisory Group discussed the placement and architecture of the council chambers in the new center, Mr. Horwedel's report says.

The advisory group members asked architects WRNS Studio to make the new council chambers a hybrid of traditional and modern design, echoing features of the current council chambers historic Mission-style building. Plans are to renovate the historic chambers as part of the adjoining new library.

The advisory group also asked for what it called "Santa Barbara-style" traditional residential design features for the new town offices, especially the Fair Oaks Lane frontage.

The style of the interior plaza, especially the wing housing the police offices, could be more modern, they said.

Committee members said they liked the modern architectural design of the new library, with lots of glass and curved walls.

Cartan Field project

Menlo School and Menlo College, which had put plans for renovating their Cartan Field athletic facilities on hold in 2013, are ready to submit plans that were revised with the input of neighbors, a report to the council says.

The report asks that additional funds, to be paid by Menlo School and Menlo College, be approved for updating the environmental report on the earlier plans. Facility uses remain the same as in earlier submitted plans, except that Menlo College no longer has a football program, the report says.

Energy program

Council members will decide if they want to join San Mateo County's Peninsula Clean Energy joint powers authority to bring energy from renewable resources to residents of member communities. Peninsula Clean Energy will buy power from renewable resources that will be delivered and billed for by Pacific Gas & Electric. Residents will be able to opt out and remain with PG&E.

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5 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Somebody also needs to do something about the Union Pacific train engineer who loves to steadily lean on his loud horn a quarter mile before approaching the train station, all through the train station, and after leaving the train station. I have written to Union Pacific twice, calling their attention to this disruptive train horn noise. UP needs to ratchet down the decibel level of their engine horns.

Like this comment
Posted by Watkins
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 16, 2015 at 1:56 pm

They also need to have a quite zone for Watkins by the park. Anyone going to the meeting please bring this up as well.

2 people like this
Posted by Jeremy
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm

@Watkins If you are not attending the meeting, you can email the town council members to voice your opinion. The town web page has their contact info:
Web Link

If they hear many town citizens want a quiet zone, it will become a priority for the council to complete and set budget aside for.

Once the Fair Oaks quiet zone is in place, the quiet zone can be extended to Watkins later on. However, Watkins requires additional safety equipment before a quiet zone can be established there. The council would need to appropriate money for that.

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

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