After months of wrangling between supporters and opponents of building a new library in Holbrook-Palmer Park, the Atherton City Council finally agreed to put the issue before voters on Nov. 6. But Mayor Bill Widmer and his colleagues Kathy McKeithen and Jim Dobbie, who made up the razor-thin 3-2 majority that favors the park site for the library, also backed a proposal to put two additional measures on the Nov. 6 ballot: Measure L regards financing plans for a new town center, and Measure M would give permission to build permanent structures in the existing Little League ball field, including restrooms, in the park. (In addition to the ballot measures, Atherton voters will elect two City Council members Nov. 6. The Almanac will endorse in that race Oct. 24.)
Park is by far best site for new library building
We hope that unreasonable fears about parking and an increase in visitors from other cities do not derail a golden opportunity for Atherton to build a new library in the serene setting of Holbrook-Palmer Park at virtually no cost to the town. Because Atherton is a member of a county library consortium, a portion of city property taxes has been funneled into a library fund that will reach $8 million in about two years. The funds can be used only for library purposes, so why not take advantage of this amazing offer?
A new library would replace the little-used Main House, which is not a historic building. Adequate parking exists to serve the library, and the park's emphasis on low-key activities is very compatible with library use. Traffic studies show there would be little difference in impacts whether the library is located in the park or at Town Center. A side benefit for the town is the likely availability to use community rooms for meetings and other town functions.
We urge residents to vote yes on Measure F, to bring a modern library to Holbrook-Palmer Park.
Little League has big plans for park
After playing on a temporary field for more than 10 years, the Menlo-Atherton Little League is proposing an ambitious project to build a Victorian-style, 200-seat covered bleacher structure, backstop, foul poles, dugouts, scoreboard, and public restrooms; and to renovate the playing field and resurface the nearby tennis courts. The outfield fence could be removed at the end of the season, and the restrooms would be available to all park users.
We expect many residents will welcome Little League's improvements to one of the few facilities in the park available for children. The league says one-third of its 520 players live in Atherton, which is more than enough reason to give the offer a thumbs-up.
We urge voters to support Measure M to upgrade the Little League field and resurface the tennis courts.
Private funding for new Town Center
This measure did not need to go before voters, an argument made to the City Council by member Elizabeth Lewis, who is chair of a group hoping to raise private funding for a new Town Center. Why would anyone vote no on this measure, which simply asks if the town should primarily use private donations to fund the project?
There is no question that the dilapidated Town Center buildings need to be replaced and at this time it makes no sense to rule out any funding source, including any voter-approved taxes that might be proposed.
We urge voters to support this measure, which we hope will attract private donors to help fund a new Town Center.