Naming rights for Atherton civic center on council agenda | News | Almanac Online |


Naming rights for Atherton civic center on council agenda


The Atherton City Council will discuss how it will recognize donors who support the town’s $31.6 million new civic center – possibly by granting naming rights to specific buildings or elements, during a Wednesday, Feb. 5, meeting.

A $5 million donation could net a donor a naming opportunity for a new roadway from Ashfield Road to Fair Oaks Lane. A $1 million donor could see his, her or a family name identifying the children’s room of the new library, according to a report prepared by town staff for the meeting.

For several months, staff has suggested that offering such an option might increase donor contributions. The issue came into focus in September when Mayor Rick DeGolia mentioned that a resident expressed interest in loaning the town money for the project, which is slated for completion in 2021 and includes a new mission-style building housing police offices, town administration, building and planning offices, and a council chamber/emergency operations center connected to the new library.

DeGolia said the resident could have his or her name put on a building or be similarly recognized in exchange for a zero-interest loan. The council ultimately opted not to pursue the loan.

A subcommittee made up of DeGolia and council member Bill Widmer will report to the rest of the council on how they would like to formalize naming opportunities for the civic center project.

Town officials have drafted a list of about 20 naming opportunities for the project that range from $4,000 to $5 million, according to the staff report. Atherton Now, a nonprofit formed to raise private funding for the civic center, has been collecting donations.

DeGolia and Widmer have recommended that donors of more than $500,000 be recognized with “discrete plaques,” 8.5 inches by 11 inches in size. They propose that plaques be half the size for donations less than $500,000. This would be separate from recognitions included on a donor wall, according to the two council members.

The council already has a written commitment from Bob and Connie Lurie to donate $500,000 in exchange for naming rights to the Cafe Terrace area, which will be located on the outdoor deck in front of the town's new library.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Lewis will also brief the council on marketing work she’s doing in relation to the donor recognition, according to a staff report.

Lewis is also developing the look for donor plaques.

Atherton Now has withheld the last of its donated funds, $250,000, until “finalization and approval of the donor wall and recognition related to specific donor requests," according to the report. The nonprofit advised that it would like to review the proposed donor wall and recognition plans and drawings.

The subcommittee suggests that the council approve the final list of naming rights opportunities, and their associated donation amounts, at the meeting, and that the letters to Atherton Now donors be sent out shortly after the meeting. The letter to all residents should be sent before March, DeGolia and Widmer suggest.

At the same meeting, the council will vote on allowing City Manager George Rodericks to apply to the town’s Planning Commission for a conditional use permit and development agreement for an underground water storage and filtering project to Cartan Field – the athletic field shared by Menlo School and Menlo College – located off El Camino Real and Alejandra Avenue.

The project would help Caltrans meet state mandates to reduce pollutants washing off its roadways. Atherton also has a state mandate to reduce pollutants flowing to the Bay through the Atherton Channel drainage basin. The project would include a diversion structure to redirect urban water runoff, wet weather water runoff from the Atherton Channel through a pre-treatment device to remove trash, debris and sediment before bringing the water to a multi-chambered storage and infiltration facility, according to a staff report.

“Approximately 10 acre-feet of detention/storage capacity is needed to manage a 10-year storm event to minimize flooding associated with the existing Marsh Road box culvert,” according to the report.

Based on preliminary engineering concept designs for the facility by TetraTech Inc., the town prepared an environmental report for the project. The report concludes that “although the proposed project could have a significant effect on the environment, the design features, best management practices and mitigation measures incorporated into the project will avoid potentially significant impacts.” The public review period for the report is from Jan. 8 to Feb. 24.

After public review of the environmental report, MIG, the town’s environmental consultant, will prepare responses to written and verbal comments made at a Jan. 21 community informational meeting.

The town, in a 2015 drainage master plan, identified the need for stormwater detention basins to reduce flood risks. The drainage master plan envisions large, slightly depressed grassy areas where water could be diverted in flood conditions. The facility Caltrans has offered to pay for is much more elaborate. It would divert the water deep underground, and it would require much less above-ground land area.

Initial plans to place the facility at Las Lomitas School at 299 Alameda de las Pulgas fell apart when the council and the Las Lomitas Elementary School District couldn't come to terms. The district wanted Atherton to agree to build the project even if the town determined the facility's ongoing maintenance costs would be high, and also wanted pre-approval of a traffic signal at Walsh Road and $750,000 to pay for the signal (Nearby residents later protested the proposed signal and the district no longer plans to install it.)

The town then considered putting the water capture facility in Holbrook-Palmer Park. But residents and park users said that the construction process could be too disruptive and the facility would be out of place in the park.

The Wednesday meeting takes place at 4 p.m. in Holbrook-Palmer Park’s Pavilion, 150 Watkins Ave.

The full agenda can be viewed here.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or show your support for local journalism by subscribing.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


1 person likes this
Posted by Where?
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 4, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Wish this would have all been done ahead of time.

Where, how and when did the fund raising efforts go off the rail? What lesson should be learned here?

8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 5, 2020 at 6:06 am

Just imagine the Donald J. Trump Toilets or the Harvey Weinstein Emergency Operations Center.

For the Atherton Town Council everything has a price - and nothing has value.

13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 5, 2020 at 6:29 am

By the way Atherton Town Council - what about the taxpayers who are actually paying for this new Town Center?

How about a REALLY big plaque for them?

3 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2020 at 7:25 am

Peter, the Donald J. Trump outhouses would be more appropriate. At the speed the project has been going for years it may be some time before actual toilets with plumbing are completed.

3 people like this
Posted by Naming
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2020 at 11:02 am

Measured against how it was originally sold, TOTALLY PAID FOR BY DONATIONS, this project has been a complete circle jerk failure.

Nonetheless, a deal has been made by Elizabeth Lewis and the two council members answering to her, Cary Wiest and Rick Degolia, to name the center after her upon completion.

You heard it here first. Wait and see.

6 people like this
Posted by Romney Supports Hunter Biden
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 5, 2020 at 11:24 am

For maximum revenue, sell the naming rights for 5-year periods — just the way the big boys do with stadium naming rights!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 7,779 views

Flying: How much is enough? It's personal.
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,504 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 17 comments | 2,025 views

My Pet Peeves
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 7 comments | 1,579 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 3 comments | 810 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details