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this resident does NOT want a new library - other priorities MUCH more important!

From: domainremoved <Darshana>
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:39:56 -0700

Dear City Council Members,

I completely agree with Jen Wolosin’s carefully written letter!

We do NOT *need* a new library - we need an updated library in Belle Haven as a separate project - and that is LONG PAST DUE.

And we need our kids to have safer walking routes to school, and many other priorities, as she specifies below.

A new library downtown is a luxury we do not need, until we have handled all the needs that have been put off.

I do not want to pay for such an excessive project, and am ashamed that the City is considering it first, rather than down the road.

Darshana Greenfield
Menlo Park, CA 94025

—————————Jen Wolosin writes: ---------------
Dear City Council Members,

This email is in regards to Agenda Item I2, the Library. After reviewing the Staff Report, I remain concerned about this project for the following reasons:

Not Enough Community Feedback

While there is community feedback built into the siting of the new library, there has been insufficient community feedback as to whether or not Menlo Park wants and/or needs a new main library. If City Council votes to move forward with this project, Menlo Park will be on the hook for at least $30 million ($20 million of construction costs and $10 million of soft costs). We should slow down and make sure this is something we truly need and want as a community before we rush into this big commitment. If you want to spend money on outreach, use it to see if residents even want a new library.

While it’s nice to hear that Mr. Arrillaga is open to adding affordable housing to the project, which our city desperately needs, the Staff Report hedges this idea multiple times with words like, “may, could and possibly.” Some who may be troubled by the use of city resources for a new library may be supportive if this project included needed housing...but it is impossible to know at this stage what is really being suggested. Again, slowing this down and obtaining community feedback now would help illuminate these nuances.

Other Real Priorities

In addition to community engagement issues, I am also troubled that, once again, other previously identified city priorities will need to be demoted and delayed to accommodate the library. With many staffing vacancies in Public Works, especially the Transportation Department, and many open projects and other safety-related projects that need to be addressed, now is not the time to add “nice-to-haves” to our work plan. Everyday kids getting to school face unsafe walking and biking conditions. What is the status of the Willows Complete Streets/Laurel School Project, the Belle Haven Cut Through Project, the City-Wide Safe Routes to School Program? And that’s not even mentioning Safe Routes issues that have yet to become Council priorities like Santa Cruz & Sharon Road, Olive & Santa Cruz, the HAWK on Middlefield, Laurel & Encinal, to name a few. Please allocate funds and resources towards our city’s basic needs before indulging in unnecessary projects.

Special Treatment

There is also the issue of this project getting an immediate $1 million, a new staff person and a higher contract award authority to the City Manager. Yes, “free” money is exciting, but does a new library (or community center, or whatever it ends up being) deserve all of this urgency, changes to our policies and resources when there are other, bigger issues facing our city?

Belle Haven

Finally, it is not fair to the residents of Belle Haven to hold the Belle Haven library improvements hostage to the main library project. You should make immediate improvements in Belle Haven, form a Belle Haven Advisory Committee and get going on real change in Belle Haven, regardless of the main library. This should have been done long ago. To see these concessions, only now as a form of appeasement because of Arrillaga’s offer, is insulting.

All this being said, please slow down and first see if this is what our city really wants. If Mr. Arrillaga can’t wait for us to do this right, then maybe that’s something to which we should pay attention.

Thank you for your consideration.

Jen Wolosin
Resident, Menlo Park
Received on Tue Oct 10 2017 - 14:45:03 PDT

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