Letter: Put library in park | September 26, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - September 26, 2012

Letter: Put library in park

A new library in the park, owned and controlled by the town, with specifically dedicated funding that already exists, would be a wonderful asset today and for the future.

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Posted by Preserve the Park
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

From the November 2011 Almanac

"Councilwoman Kathy McKiethen, who is on the committee that came up with the recommendation to put the library in the park, had a two-page summary of the reasons she is against a survey. Among the reasons was that, due to complexity of the issue, "it would be impossible for a resident to make a knowledgeable response to the supposedly simple question 'do you favor a library in Holbrook-Palmer Park?'"

That didn't sit well with some in the audience. "When I am told that the issue is so complex that I shouldn't worry my little head, then I can't decide whether to be insulted or suspicious," resident Jonathan Tiemann said.

Earl Nielsen agreed. "We can't trust the intelligence of Atherton — you're kidding?" he said."

There is a web site that has been created to inform residents of the library issue: www.SaveOurPark.info.

Only three council members favor a library in the park: Widmer, McKeithen, and Dobbie. All previous council members oppose the 13,500 square foot county library in the park. Dozens of long time residents oppose the idea and their names are listed on the web site.

The council majority did appoint three residents who oppose the park concept to a committee; why did they resign from the committee?

The council majority did not place a size limatation on ballot measure. Why not? Later could a new EIR be done to add Patio and enlarge the library past 13,500 square feet?

With Menlo Park's library so close and under utilized, why does it make sense to build a second county library in Atherton's only park? Are there other needs for the park? The area needs more fields and why stop having weddings in the park? Weddings bring in more than $3,500.00 per rental and benefit those looking for a special space.

Isn't $3,500.00 per rental enough to cover the upkeep on the main house?

If it is true that the Council had public meetings with an agenda item to allow residents to discuss the location of the library, can someone response to my letter with the dates of those meetings? Can they put a link to the Town of Atherton web site where the minutes are posted showing the comments of those opposing the location and why the council by a 3-2 vote went aqainst those opinions?

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Posted by here you go again
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Ms Waldron makes a number of statements that are characteristic of the Atherton Library Steering Committee mis-representations and omissions of facts.
Ms Waldron states the library will be controlled by the Town. The building will be owned by the Town but the control and operation will be by the County Joint Powers Administration.
The EIR study had no "mandating" power. The EIR only studied environmental issues concerned with a 13,500 square foot structure. Three other sites were also studied as a basis for comparison purposes including a 8,500 square foot building.
There is not any agreement (to date)between the JPA and the Town on sharing operating costs for the Park. The library funds cannot be used for a traffic light at Middlefield and Watkins. In addition CalTrans does not want a traffic light located a that intersection.
Ms. Waldron fails to mention among a number of other important issues like the intersection of Watkins and El Camino Real that the EIR stated cannot be mitigated. The intersection and immediate area has already had two fatalities and nine injury accidents in the past four and a half years.
Also not mentioned is that the library is designed by the JPA for 16,000 people to use from the county immediate service area. This means an additional 9,000 people will use "OUR" library as Atherton population is about 7,000.
This is simply will not be as she describes "be a wonderful asset today and for the future."

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Posted by Perserve our Park
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm

To Here you go Again,

Those in favor of the Library in the Park often write something close to: "This type of misrepresentation should make us all wonder what their real agenda is."

The agenda of all those with yard signs and listed on the web site is: "do not place a county sized library in the park."

No need to question a "real: agenda.

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Posted by Commissario
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Okay, I get that the current facility is old, seismically compromised and in need of an overhaul. What I don't understand is why a structure more than twice the size of the existing one needs to be built and located in Atherton's only park?

WMD and the Library Steering Committee seem to be operating on the premise that if you build it they will come. One need only look at the Menlo Atherton Performing Arts Center to see how flawed that reasoning is. The article in today's Almanac details even more of the issues of that facility. Previous posts (particularly Mr. Crittenden's) have alluded to significant increases in usage at the current site. Where's the proof? Each time I visit the library, regardless of the time of day, there are very few customers and a handful of people (usually the same 2 or 3) using the computers. Are there unadulterated statistics verifying these "significant increases?" If so, let's see them.

There is no denying that more books are becoming available for downloading to personal electronic devices. The library offers this service free of charge and I've used it many times. If I want an electronic book that is not available from the library, I can purchase it from Amazon for a relatively small charge. I can't imagine that this trend will reverse, so why then is there a need for more space for books?

Some libraries now offer music and movies in electronic form. Isn't this a precursor to the reduction and eventual elimination of CDs and DVDs? How many people still listen to cassette tapes or watch VHS tapes? Audio and video streaming = fewer CDs and DVDs = less space required to house them.

The Library Steering Committee, et al, would have you believe that a larger library is necessary to accommodate greater public access to computers. I suspect that most households in Atherton have multiple computers and Internet access. Most of the people I see using computers in the Atherton library are utilizing the library's Wi-Fi on their own laptops; there appears to be more than enough space for them.

Wouldn't the dollars available for this MacLibrary project be better spent upgrading the current facility and integrating it with a state-of-the-art town center, council chamber, meeting rooms, etc., rather than creating an underused monstrosity that will forever alter the beauty and ambience of Holbrook-Palmer Park? Any remaining money can be used to enhance the schools, as some have already suggested. This would truly benefit the entire community, not just satiate the narrow-minded egos of WMD, County Library Administration and members of the Library Steering Committee.

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Posted by here you go again
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

The Atherton Library Steering Committee in conjunction with the county JPA are the architects of the Library in the Park project. In concert with council members WMD (Widmer,McKeithen and Dobbie) they have attempted to ram this huge project through without resident approval. Fortunately the opportunity exists to reject this monstrosity in the Park that is designed for 16,000 although there are only about 7,200 souls living in Atherton. Also on the ballot is a candidate for Council, Denise Kupperman the chair of the ALSC. It is worth looking again at a Viewpoint opinion she wrote in July regarding her opinion and philosophy on the library in the Park. If you want the library in the park then vote for her as she is one of the main forces behind the project and her actions are a future indicator of how she would behave as a Council Member. It also is reported that she in an advocate of High Speed Rail although she still needs to reveal the details of that stance.

Viewpoint - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Letter: Size of library should not be a factor

Given the importance of determining the Atherton Library location it is not surprising that there is much controversy and debate. As a ballot measure, it's important that the discussion be a positive engagement centered on facts.
What is surprising and of equal but less visible importance is an underlying debate over the size of the Atherton Library and who it will serve. As a member of the San Mateo County Library System, the Atherton Branch Library's mandate is to serve the general public's information needs, to serve the public interest, and be open and welcoming of every community member.

The Atherton Library has been serving Atherton and unincorporated San Mateo County areas for many years. With over 9,400 Atherton Library cardholders, it certainly seems appropriate and reasonable to conclude that the Atherton Library serves a broader community and that the library should continue to serve those community members and any other person interested in availing themselves of the wonderful public library services we all enjoy.

However, current and former council persons express the notion that the library should be sized to only accommodate Atherton residents because only town residents are paying for the new building via the Donor City Fund. This is a troubling sentiment — that a community as fortunate as ours would consider deliberately planning a library centered on only accommodating themselves, when in fact they can afford to do otherwise. Do we want to be defined as a community not interested in sharing a place that provides opportunities for learning and literacy for all? I certainly hope not.

Denise Kupperman, Chair, Atherton Library Building Steering Committee

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Posted by Perserve Our Park
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

There is no reason to believe that people will turn out from outside Atherton in the numbers this new library can handle. Redwood City and Menlo Park have libraries close by, which have empty chairs.

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Posted by Perserve Our Park
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Sep 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm

All other council candidates are opposed to the library in the park.

A big flaw with Measure F is that it does not limit the size of the library. If Measure F passes the council can build as large a library as it wants.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

After long consideration and after reviewing all of the available material, I have decide to vote NO on the library in the park. Our park is a unique resource which should be preserved as open space and the destruction of the Main House would mean the loss of a perfectly servicable and historic structure. The accumulated funds in the library account could easily support a superb new and slightly larger structure at the present site. There is no rationale for building a significantly larger library.

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Posted by Perserve our Park
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 30, 2012 at 9:14 am


Good and correct call.

Will you endorse the "No" on Measure F on the www.SaveOurPark.info web site?

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Posted by X Factor
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2012 at 12:19 am

Peter: For myself, I don't really care where the new library goes, but....... There is nothing "historic" about the "Main House" which was never even lived in-not even for one day.
The structure you refer to was something just slapped up in 1960 with some of the insurance money after the real three story victorian home burned down. The family had already gifted the property to the Town, and had forever finished visiting from the city, and just decided to use some of the insurance money to box up the void left by the fire.
I'm not really sure that the term "servicable" ever really applied either, except that it was useful for wedding rentals, ACIL meetings and some random storage.

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Posted by Perserve Our Park
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

The Main House and its patio area serve well for weddings, the Easter Egg Hunt, and other parties. Does it matter if it is only 50 years old? It provides office space to the park foundation and is the center of operations to run the park. Replacing it with a commerical building 3 times its size will change the character of the park.