Civic center cost-cutting on Atherton council agenda | August 15, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - August 15, 2018

Civic center cost-cutting on Atherton council agenda

by Barbara Wood

Atherton's City Council will work on the difficult task of trying to figure out how to reduce the costs of its planned new civic center at a special meeting on Friday morning, Aug. 17.

Specifics on ways to modify the design of the library to cut costs will be discussed at the meeting as well more general information about ways to do the same thing for the new police headquarters and other town offices. The council is scheduled to meet in closed session at 8 a.m. to discuss City Manager George Rodericks' performance evaluation, with the open meeting expected to start at 8:30 a.m.

The council is also scheduled to vote on canceling its November City Council election because only three candidates have filed for the three open seats: incumbents Rick DeGolia, Bill Widmer and Mike Lempres.

The town has been scrambling since early June when the lowest of the only two bids the town received to construct the new civic center, at $56.4 million, was 40 percent higher than the town consultant's $40.5 million estimate. The town had prequalified five firms to bid, but three of them dropped out.

The City Council voted to reject both bids and to "value engineer" the project to reduce its cost. The town's goal is to have the design changes completed and approved by December so the project can be rebid, this time to any qualified firms that want to participate, in January.

If the timetable can be met, and a bid affordable to the town comes in, the project will be at least six months behind schedule.

Library savings options

Among the options that have been identified as possible ways to cut costs of the library are:

• Defer renovating the historic town hall (the current council chambers), which was to become a library community room. Possible savings: $1.8 million.

• Remove 1,610 square feet of adult reading and meeting space. Possible savings: $1.5 million.

• Delete outdoor gathering spaces including decks, shade garden, fencing, furnishings and plantings. Possible savings: $1 million.

• Reduce environmentally efficient features. Possible savings: $1.8 million, with increased annual operating costs.

• Downgrade energy efficiency of windows and access to indoor/ourdoor spaces. Possible savings: $900,000, with higher energy costs.

• Replace rammed earth wall. Possible savings: $900,000, with higher energy costs, less interior design flexibility.

Police/town offices options

Among the options for savings on the police headquarters and other town offices that are being studied are:

• Separate the town offices and police headquarters into two buildings so the town offices need not be built to the standards required of a public safety building, and allowing elimination of the lobby that joins the two. Possible savings: $1 million.

• Eliminate renovations and screening of the corporation yard. Possible savings: $840,000.

•Defer building new council chambers and emergency operations center and hold town meetings in Holbrook-Palmer Park buildings. Possible savings: $1.7 million.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Town Manager states:
" In May 2018, the bid climate proved spectacularly higher than anticipated and the number of pre-qualified bidders that opted to bid on the project dwindled to 2, with the remaining 5 dropping out because they were just simply too busy. The lower bid of the two submitted was nearly 40% higher than the base estimates for the project."

And since then almost 1500 structures in Northern California have been destroyed by fire and, as a result, construction costs will surge even higher for at least the next two years.

Web Link

"A survey from the Associated General Contractors of America showed that 75% of West Coast firms were struggling to fill construction positions, up from 71% in 2016. The shortage comes as California added nearly 50,000 construction jobs in the period of July 2016 to July 2017, with 34,000 projects in the Southern California region. That was two months before the fires began."

And that was before 2018's even more devastating fires.

I predict that ANY plan put out to bid by the Town will result in bids in excess of $50 million - IF anybody even responds to the RFP.


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


Race is tonight!

On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More