Guest opinion: Logic says library should go in the park | April 18, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Viewpoint - April 18, 2012

Guest opinion: Logic says library should go in the park

by Jim Dobbie

The controversy over the Atherton library is between those residents who use logic in their decision-making processes and those who are governed by personal emotions or bias.

The logic is simple. Atherton has money, set aside for the library, based on distributions from Proposition 13. By the time the library is built that amount will be about $8 million, enough for the building.

This money can be spent only on library projects. Approximately $720,000 in library funds accumulate each year and if the library is in Holbrook-Palmer Park, some of this money can help pay for much needed maintenance

Whether the library is in the park or in the site of the present library, the draft environmental report concludes the traffic problem, if any, will be the same.

Considering that Menlo Park and Redwood City have excellent libraries, it is highly unlikely that everyone will decide to use our new library. The park will provide a beautiful serene setting highly desirable for this building

Even at the present, train noise at the library and Council Chambers is overwhelming to say the least. If high-speed rail goes ahead there will be years of construction, pollution, shoefly tracks, visual blight, catenaries and 20- to 30-foot berms, increased vibration and then a huge increase in train traffic. Not the site for a library.

It is illogical that the same City Council members, who are against the library in the park, want to continue weddings there, which caused serious parking problems, especially on weekends when many residents would want to be there. Those weddings were almost always for non-Atherton residents and despite statements to the contrary, lost money.

Where is the logic?

Those who are concerned about the loss of green should know that the library at 10,000 square feet replaces the main house and no green space is lost. It is noteworthy that the tennis courts serve only 29 Atherton residents yet take up more than four times the space of the library.

Council members are elected to represent the best interests of the residents and they will not always agree, but the democratic system works when members support council decisions even if not unanimous.

Calls for referendums are misplaced in this instance, where more than 50 public meetings have been held and over a dozen community meetings.

The issues have been intensely studied by volunteer committees for over two years. In addition, in a referendum large amounts of money can be spent to influence the outcome by only a very few.

If a small number of residents focused on decisions made by other than logic stop the library construction it will be golden opportunity lost for the town.

Jim Dobbie is a member of the Atherton City Council.


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Posted by William
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Logic would mean that the council would be willing to do what a mojority of the residents want and what the Park anc Recreation Commission has advised the council to do: Take a vote of the Residents of Atherton.

Mr. Dobbie's Opinion leaves several questions, which have not been answered in the two years of meetings. Yet the council refuses to to this on the agenda for residents to comment and ask questions.

1. Since the Library funds have to be used for Library services, how can they be spent on park maintenance?
2. Traffic will not be the same. The EIR report says traffic will increase. This is a regional library the council wants to build.
3. If Menlo Park and Redwood City have great libraries, why is one needed in Atherton.
4. Train noise: How do the hundreds of Atherton residents that live near the train tracks currently exist?
5. Weddings don't lose money. The Park rents for several thousand dollars for a few hours. That makes money.
6. The tennis courts serve more than 29 residents. What about the youth programs on the courts? Do any of these residents bring a guest to play tennis?
7. Open space is needed in the park and where are the curent activities of the Main House going to be relocated. Where will the funds come from to replace those activities.
8. It seems that only a few people seem to want a library in the park and do not want to let a town vote happen.

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Posted by librarylogic
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2012 at 5:37 am

Jim Dobbie states,"If a small number of residents focused on decisions made by other than logic stop the library construction it will be golden opportunity lost for the town." This arrogant remark highlights the thinking of the three council members who refuse to let the matter be decided by the voters of Atherton.
Logic would tell you that a vote would be the proper thing to do with a divided council and a very important and long lasting decision to be made. Logic would ask the question, "what are they afraid of in holding a vote?" Logic would tell you that logic has nothing to do with it.

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Posted by Donna
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

If the money can only be spent on "library projects" why not consider building/improving the libraries of schools that reside in Atherton? I agree that with two great libraries so close by, there's really no need for a bigger, more beautiful public library. With $8 million to spend, seismic and aesthetic improvements could be made to the existing library building and the rest divided among improvements to the school libraries in Atherton. That would be a worthy investment with huge dividends. With all the cuts to educational spending, school libraries and staff have been the hardest hit areas.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When the five elected and respected town council members cannot all agree on where to locate the library and how to use limited space in the town's only park then the only alternative is to submit this issue to a binding vote by the citizens. Preferably the town council will take the initiative on this process and thereby formulate the language of the ballot measure. If the council is unable to perform that role then it will be performed by others.

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Posted by John
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 19, 2012 at 7:52 am

Have a vote, then Do a joint-venture project with Menlo College.

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Posted by No Answer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

There have been numerous posts on Almanac Blogs with questions for those supporting the Library in the Park. Just like this blog, the questions go unanswered. Logic would be that the answers might cause concern.

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Posted by Wise to the ALBSC
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm

McKeithen and Dobbie conveniently publish "Guest Opinions" right before comments are due on the EIR! It is amazing how they coordinate so nicely to start to hold four premature meetings about how to decorate the library, then move seamlessly to foment concerns about the Tennis Courts, about Committees and their rules, about the resident-run email list and insult residents about having no soul (when it is they who would pave over our park to prevent our children and their children from enjoying real open space were they can play games and sports and not have to be in buildings), all within the comment period for the EIR. It couldn't be that they were doing that so that folks might be distracted from submitting complaints about the ALBSC and hard-hitting comments about the nonsense foisted in the EIR, could it?

Folks, if you are reading this, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and start writing your Comments on the ALBSC's faulty and biased Draft EIR. These are due by May 7th and anyone in the area can respond. Of course, copies are not available through the town. You can only access the EIR online from the town website at:

Interesting that although Denise Kupperman insists that the ALBSC has no role in the work of the EIR consultants (I guess other than for having hired them, negotiated their contract and then negotiated the increase to it when ignoring the whole community caused enough controversy to require that they conduct the full EIR process), LSA sites as "Contacts" (on p. 182): Denise Kupperman, Marion Oster, and Carine Risley, all members of the ALBSC. Now if they also used Kathy McKeithen, Jim and Pat Dobbie, Karen Bliss, Sandy Crittenden, Joan Saunders and Ginny Niles, they would have gotten to every single person in the whole town who supports putting the library in the park!