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New library planning

From: domainremoved <John>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2018 20:46:43 +0000 (UTC)

Dear Council Members -

  I'm in favor of Menlo Park doing its best to make use of John Arrillaga's generous offer to support a library project.  If that offer includes Belle Haven branch design-build, even more so.  

However I'm cynical about the process that's been carried out to make use of the donation.  I participated in the first couple workshops on library redesign, which I believe occurred before Arrillaga's offer became public.  These were typical public outreach, discussion and planning events led by expert consultants.  

 A third meeting I attended after the announcement was quite different.  It became clear that the process was now being driven by city staff and others. The consultant was forced at the end to poll a confused group about 'Where should the new library go?' when housing was being introduced as a new option (and so politicizing the process), along with possible council chambers redesign. Nobody, including the consultants and staff, knew enough about what was being considered, in terms of building function and scale, for this to be a reasonable question.  
The process to date leaves critical questions unanswered.  There were negative polling results about funding a new library. Left unresolved is the expected fate of the existing library - Whether demolition is considered an option should be discussed immediately.  Input has not been solicited from other commissions for major changes to Burgess Park.   Many residents are skeptical of the 'need' for a new library altogether.  The Palo Alto Mitchell library is a good model, but that vision has to be brought to residents, not forced upon them. Staff and consultants are put in impossible positions from which to make coherent progress.          
I'm concerned how the project treats city priorities. Many wonder why council doesn't understand that twenty or thirty million dollars is still a major capital project, no matter the leverage attained through the gift.  'Leverage' is a means, not an end in itself, so what it gets you still needs to be compared against other options and priorities.  Such as the Middle Ave. pedestrian and bike tunnel, which is a key part of the Ravenswood crossing choice recently made by council. Given that, we are ready to initiate tunnel design, funding and build-out working with Stanford and the 500 ECR project. If you are bold enough to propose  a $20-30 million bond measure for the new library, please include, say, another $12 million for the Middle Ave. tunnel (to combine with Stanford's $5 million, and for a tunnel, not a bridge over the tracks).  
 
Sincerely, 

 John Kadvany / College Ave. 
Received on Tue May 22 2018 - 13:47:49 PDT

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