The Menlo Park City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 21, has been canceled, with little explanation as to why.
City Attorney Bill McClure told The Almanac in a written statement that "some issues came up end of last week/over the weekend that require some additional analysis and evaluation, so we decided to cancel the meeting since we don't have time to address by tomorrow night. We will be issuing an information item for next week’s agenda addressing those issues."
Councilwoman Catherine Carlton and Vice Mayor Ray Mueller said McClure told them there would be an explanation in the council's upcoming Aug. 28 agenda packet. Mayor Peter Ohtaki confirmed this.
"I wish we would have the meeting tomorrow, and don't know why there is a delay," Carlton added in a written statement.
“My understanding is the City attorney is working through a legal issue that arose late last week," Mueller said in a written statement. "Out of fairness to the parties involved, before providing comment, I will wait to review the City Attorney’s report out on the issue in an information item that will be attached to the August 28th City Council agenda packet," Mueller said in a written statement.
The Almanac has not received further explanation as to what the issues are that caused the meeting's cancellation, and has requested further information and comment from McClure, all council members, and City Manager Alex McIntyre.
The council's entire meeting Aug. 21 was expected to focus on potential next steps for making improvements to the city's main and Belle Haven branch libraries.
The draft of a needs assessment for the Belle Haven library was recently completed, and the council was scheduled to discuss that report's finding and work on a plan to catch the Belle Haven branch library up to speed with research that has been done at the main library by conducting a space needs assessment.
The council was also expected to vote on a site for a new proposed main library. Staff has recommended the council select Laurel Street as the site of the new library, and that it include a large community room, which could double as City Council chambers. Staffers also recommended that the council direct them to start working on schematic designs and explore ways to fund future plans for the main library and Belle Haven branch library.
The city of Menlo Park has received an offer from billionaire developer and philanthropist John Arrillaga to help rebuild the main library, if the city comes up with the first $20 million for the project and covers its soft costs, estimated to be about $10 million.
The proposal has been the subject of ongoing debate and controversy. Some say the city should accept the offer and figure out a way to raise the needed funds; others say that Belle Haven has greater capital needs for its library, and there are more pressing priorities when it comes to the city's funding.
McClure said the upcoming explanation will also include recommendations for when the matter should be rescheduled for council consideration.