Letter: Save Atherton's park by building library there | September 19, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - September 19, 2012

Letter: Save Atherton's park by building library there

The Save Our Park signs I've seen around town perplex me. Surely replacing a money-losing existing structure that does not comply with current codes with a fully paid for, carefully sized new library will enhance our park and protect its future. Here's why.

Firstly, the new library will not encroach on any existing green space, or on the tennis courts, the softball area, historical buildings, or the playground.

San Mateo County Library standards suggest that a 10,000-square-foot building would provide basic modern library services to Atherton's current cardholders. The 4,000-square-foot library on Station Lane is obviously not big enough. The environmental impact report was done for a maximum building size of 13,500 square feet to give Atherton residents and its council the option of providing additional community amenities.

Atherton currently provides cramped space for its historical society next to the Council Chambers and for its arts programs in the basement of park's main house. The community will decide whether to accommodate those and other community activities on the second floor of the new library. There has also been talk of a meeting room for lectures and meet-the-author events; our community will decide.

So, all existing park amenities remain, to be complemented by a new library with its wealth of intellectual and spiritual resources. Ongoing library revenues will contribute to adjacent park maintenance. What's not to like about this wonderful synergy? Atherton voters can save their park by putting their library in it.

Tina Isenberg

Polhemus Avenue, Atherton


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Sep 20, 2012 at 11:45 am

I disagree with Ms. Isenberg: You can not save a park by turning over its open space with 13,000 square foot county library building and its parking requirements.

As word has spread of the plan by three members of the council to put a county library in the park, others have organized to inform the public of what is really at stake.

A web site Web Link has the facts.

Ms. Isenberg writes that the new library will not "Encoach on any existing green space..." However it will take over the open space of the hardscape and patio around the main house which will be removed.

We have been told that library funds can only be used for library purposes, yet Ms. Isenberg's letter proposes to use library funds for the Art Committee, Historical Society, meeting rooms, and adjencent park maintenance. Why can't we just use the funds for the Art Committee, Historical Society, and meeting rooms without building a new library?

Menlo Park has a library that is not used to capacity. There is no need to build a White Elephant in Atherton's only park and remove a wonderful main house and the large open space patio next to it.

Simply improve the current library and use the funds to work with Atherton's schools.

If Atherton votes to turn over its park land to a county library, it will not "save the park"---part of the park will be gone forever.

Like this comment
Posted by community center
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

In actual fact this building is a community center, and while it might be a building housing books, it is a "community gathering space" as described and conceived by Ms DesPain the administrator of the County library Authority (JPA). It is also an internet operation as well as housing rooms where people meet and chat.
Atherton Council Member Carlson asked a number of questions of Ms DesPain during the EIR process and it is linked below. It is revealing in that there is not any agreement or on going negotiation on how or what monies flow to the Town out of the library fund as well as many other issues.
Web Link
As Mr Carlson has deduced in this document the library is designed an d planned to service an additional 9,000 non-Atherton people from the immediate county area. This is in addition to the Town's population of about 7,000.
So how does this figure in Ms Isenberg's theory the library will save the Park? It simply does not.

Like this comment
Posted by What is at Risk
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm

[Portion removed; stick to the facts and don't speculate about other posters.]

Atherton has had the park for more than 50 years and is only at risk to losing park land to the county sized library. The last statement: "Atherton voters can save their park by putting a library in it." leads people to believe the park has other issues besides turning over land for a county library.

Like this comment
Posted by What is at Risk
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Carlson has some good comments. Maybe someone in favor of the library will comment. As proposed by the County, a majority of users will come from outside Atherton including Menlo Park. Menlo Park already has a library, but does not belong to the county JPA. Does the county plan to market the Atherton Library to Menlo Park since Menlo Park does not belong to the county library system?