The recommended design for a new Atherton civic center was shown to group of about 100 people on Monday night, March 21, at a joint meeting of the City Council and the Civic Center Advisory Committee in Holbrook-Palmer Park's Jennings Pavilion.
"We are closer that we ever have been to reality," said Mayor Elizabeth Lewis. Mayor Lewis said she's been working on the civic center project for seven years, but others have been working on the project for as many as 25 years.
In addition to seeing the drawings of the proposed civic center, the audience saw a five-minute video explaining why the new buildings are needed.
Narrated by advisory committee member Paul Tonelli, the video shows the ill-repair of the existing town facilities. "We are still in a losing battle to keep our facilities safe and operable," says Mr. Tonelli in the video.
Councilman Rick DeGolia, who with Mayor Lewis serves as a liaison to the advisory committee, said he hopes that enough money can be raised to make the civic center net-zero energy, producing as much energy as it consumes.
"One thing I've been particularly passionate about ... is to make this building as sustainable as we possibly can afford," he said. The building is designed to accommodate energy-saving features such as solar panels if the town can pay for them, he said. "If we can do it, this civic center would be the first zero net energy civic center in California," Mr. DeGolia said.
He said if the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission goes ahead with plans to replace its 3-foot-diameter water main that now runs through the site, the town is considering reusing the existing steel pipe as a heat pump. "It's already in place, and we don't have to buy it," he said.
Kim Young, who is part of the Atherton Now group that is working to raise most of the funds needed to build the civic center, said she was inspired by seeing Portola Valley's new town center. That center "really embraces everybody," she said, with picnic benches and play areas and a farmers' market every week. "We would love to see some of that here," she said, to "really make our neighbors feel close and have a real heart to our town."
Next up: The advisory committee will meet on April 4 to discuss any changes prompted by the public meeting before forwarding the design to the City Council for approval either on April 20 or May 4.
In addition to the plans, the council will consider an estimate of the cost to build the proposed project from the project managers, consultants Mack5.
The architects will then spend the next six months refining the design, including floor plans and site plans and working on the specifics for the engineering, building materials, landscaping, plumbing, lighting, mechanical and other details.