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Atherton fire station off the table in housing element plan

Original post made on May 3, 2023

One more potential site for residential growth has been nixed from Atherton's eight-year housing plans.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 3, 2023, 10:56 AM

Comments (2)

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 3, 2023 at 12:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This was a wise decision by the Fire Board. Years ago the Fire District made a strategic investment in this property immediately adjacent to Station 3 just as it has with properties adjacent to Stations 2, 4 and 6 (all of which have already been utilized to expand those existing stations to meet the growing residential and employee populations in the Fire District) as well as property adjacent to Station 1 which will be used for another essential expansion. The Fire District's purchase of the property adjacent to Station 3 was a once in a lifetime opportunity and, since it was a competitive open market transaction, the Town had the opportunity to buy the property and choose not to do so. In fact, at the time the Town criticized the Fire District for this purchase by a public entity!

There are a number of vacant or unoccupied parcels that the Town could purchases and repurpose to meet its housing goals. Doing so requires an investment and a willingness to be bold - neither are easy things for an elected body but, as the Fire Board has demonstrated time and time again, it can be done.

Posted by Harold Schapelhouman
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2023 at 2:06 pm

Harold Schapelhouman is a registered user.

The Almanac article seems to infer that this was a viable “potential” site, when in fact it actually was not and should have never been included on the Towns list.

It’s not Atherton’s Fire Station, or even a Fire Department, as mentioned in the article. Station 3 is owned and operated by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District which has its own governing and elected Board.

The Fire District is older than the Town of Atherton and does not report to the Town Council. Which is why it’s not a Fire Department and the location should have never been on the “table”, because the Town put it there, not the Fire Board.

The existing fire station is undersized. I know this because I was involved in its replacement. The previous facility had a brick, unreinforced masonry apparatus room. So funds were secured from the State to help replace the Fire Station after the 1989 earthquake.

The Fire Chief and Board at the time felt this was a reasonable solution and cost saving outcome, so the facility was rebuilt.

When the property behind and next to the Station 3 came up for sale, the District actively engaged the property owner who graciously selected the Fire District, when she could have selected someone else.

Hers was both an act of community service and level of respect for the Fire District based upon years of the firefighters being good neighbors.

The land acquisition represented a strategic vision that involved planning ahead for the future replacement and needed expansion of this essential services facility.

If the Fire District did not acquire the property, it’s ability and future need to rebuild a modern emergency services facility would more than likely have taken it outside the Town limits.

The Town should have followed its own rule by asking the “property owner” for a letter of interest, rather than just erroneously adding this to their list.

So, one more potential site wasn’t “nixed”, because it should have never been on the “list”!

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