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.