A courtyard view of the proposed Atherton Civic Center, built in the “Santa Barbara” style preferred by the city council. The administration offices are at the left, then the police department, then the city council chambers. Possible cost-saving measures for the project could include replacing the drought-tolerant native plants with grass, using asphalt shingles instead of red tile on the roof, and postponing construction of the council chambers. If the project stays flush with cash, photovoltaic tiles might be added to the roof. (WRNS Studio / Town of Atherton)
With Measure A having passed, giving the blessing of slightly more than 61 percent of the 1,928 Atherton residents who voted (out of 4,904 registered voters), the city council is moving forward with plans to get the long-sought Atherton Town Center built.
On Wednesday, June 21, at its regular monthly action session, the council is expected to hear a review of expected costs for the project, and to offer guidance regarding “project deductive alternates.”
City Manager George Rodericks on Tuesday explained that there are choices built into the design for the project, which will tear down the old buildings of the police department and various city offices and the library, and replace them with new buildings.
The new library, which is expected to cost a little less than $20 million, is already funded, by money restricted to library use.
The one old building that will remain is what is now called the “Historic Council Chambers,” which will become a part of the new library, and will include a small kitchen area that will face onto a civic courtyard. It may become a café, according to town documents.
The new administration and police building, and new corporate yard, are expected to cost about $34 million, some of which has already been paid for by private donations, which so far total about $7 million.
The “deductive alternates” are items in the project planning that could be removed to keep the costs down when the project goes to bid.
For instance, said Rodericks on Tuesday, “We could change out the elevator for a different sort, maybe a slower one. Or change out the plants in the courtyard, and just put in hydroseed (grass). Or change the roof tiles from clay to shingles.”
Town documents show that other deductive alternates include using chain-link fencing instead of concrete blocks, using aluminum for window frames instead of wood, and postponing construction of new council chambers.
The project also has a list of “add alternates,” which are items that could be added if the bids come in low enough, or if the town finds itself particularly flush with cash.
High on that list would be solar power, which has always been a key issue for some city council members, such as Rick DeGolia.
Town documents show several different levels for photovoltaic panels, depending on how and where they might be used.
Other add alternates could be using copper rain gutters instead of painted aluminum, or using stone veneers instead of pre-cast concrete at wall bases.
Construction drawings are expected to be completed in November or December, then bids will be sought, to be awarded in February or March. Construction would begin in April or May, and continue through at least August 2020.
Other agenda items
The city council on Wednesday is also expected to make appointments to several town commissions and committees, all of which are expected to be fully populated.
The council is also expected to approve the parcel tax for another year, with no changes.
Rodericks said the average owner of a one-acre lot in Atherton pays about $750 per year in property taxes. Voters last approved the property tax in 2013. It comes up for another vote in November. Property taxes have been paid in Atherton since 1978, Rodericks said.
The council is also expected to receive a staff report on negotiations for solid-waste pick-up by Recology.