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please do NOT commit our city to building a totally unnecessary new main library now!!

From: domainremoved <Darshana>
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 23:48:16 -0700

Dear Menlo Park City Council Members,

My neighbor Jen Wolosin wrote you a fabulous and thorough letter earlier this evening (copy below.)

I agree completely with Ms. Wolosin. I hope you do NOT commit to this unnecessary, foolish, new library project now, when we have much more urgent needs.

Sincerely,
Darshana M. Greenfield
Menlo Park Resident since 1967
--------------

Dear City Council Members,

As a concerned citizen of Menlo Park, I strongly urge you to graciously turn down Mr. Arrillaga's current library offer. While free money is tempting to accept, please consider the following:

In addition to the other consequences of accepting Mr. Arrillaga's proposal outlined in the Staff Report, pursuing the library project at this time puts Menlo Park's kids in continued danger. In order for staff capacity to be created for the unanticipated library project, at least two major Safe Routes-related projects will need to be further postponed. The Willows Complete Streets (aka Laurel Safe Routes Study) and the Middlefield/Ringwood/Ravenswood improvement project will be pushed back. Every day kids traveling to and from our City's schools contend with dangerous street conditions. How can we take on a nice-to-have library project when children's safety (and that of all of ours in town) is "postponed"?

What does it say about our City's values that we are willing to add more staff to our City's payroll to respond to a billionaire, but we are not willing to do so to address our transportation and Safe Routes issues? If Menlo Park is willing to increase staff capacity (which I think is absolutely needed), shouldn't we use that added capacity to address issues that are really affecting the day to day lives of our town's citizens instead of fast tracking a replacement to our currently adequate library?

The process and speed that this project is demanding are troubling.
- A new main library was not a City priority until this offer was presented.
- One City Council meeting was held to consider the offer. This City Council meeting took place in the middle of summer and many of the members of public who spoke on the topic were concerned that the main library would be funded and pursued before the Belle Haven library was improved. From what I witnessed, there was no overwhelming mandate from the citizens of Menlo Park to pursue the project. Most of the residents who spoke either lived in Belle Haven or were affiliated with the library in some way. Did you receive feedback from other residents of Menlo Park if they wanted to pursue this project? Did they understand the trade-offs associated with the acceptance of this proposal?
- The Staff Report recommends increasing the City Manager's contract award authority from $66k to $250k. Considering that City Council must approve many changes around town (see consent calendars), how is it that oversight will be waived for this huge project?
- The Staff Report recommends initially taking $1 million from the General Fund's unassigned fund balance without looking at other possible uses for that money. There is no consideration of what other projects could be pursued with $20 million. The library project is being evaluated in a vacuum.
- While "community input" will be solicited to share and seek some information/feedback about the project, it is the pursuit of the project itself that should have undergone significant community input.

Furthermore, the Staff Report mentions that there are significant staff vacancies in the Public Works Department. What impact does the constant re-prioritizing of projects have, not only on our town's ability to complete important previously prioritized initiatives, but also on staff morale?

The proposal from Mr. Arrillaga is tempting, but it is not something that should be pursued without a thoughtful consideration of the trade-offs and sacrifices that it entails. What good would a state-of-the-art library do if most of us in Menlo Park are unable to visit it because we are stuck in traffic? Wouldn't we rather have the ability to bike, walk and drive safely to our existing library, rather than have a fancy building that no one can get to safely?

Menlo Park is currently experiencing a transportation and housing crisis. The only library crisis facing our community is in Belle Haven. To spend City resources on a nice-to-have main library is to ignore the true needs of our community. We don't need a fancy new library right now. We need safe streets. We need more affordable housing. We need social justice.

Please do the right thing. Please consider this proposal at the proper time and place. If updating the main library, at this level, is truly needed, the community will let you know and we will find a way. Please don't let a seductive proposition guide our town.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jen Wolosin
Menlo Park Resident
Received on Sun Aug 20 2017 - 23:50:30 PDT

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