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Council approves funds for civic center update

The Los Altos City Council last week unanimously approved funding of up to $184,000 for the services of a consultant to lead the update of its five-year-old Civic Center Master Plan.

The decision to retain the services of Anderson Brulé Architects – a consultant for the original 2009 master plan – came after the council opted earlier in January to move forward with a 10-month time frame for the revamp design. As previously reported by the Town Crier, the update focuses primarily on replacing the aging Hillview Community Center with a new multiuse, multigenerational facility.

In addition, the council unanimously approved a more detailed schedule for the project, which includes community workshops in April, August and October. A council study session on the project was scheduled Tuesday – after the Town Crier’s press deadline – to serve as a historical review of the 2009 master plan.

Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins explained that the city’s ultimate goal in updating the community center plan “is to really get residents to support a bond measure” that would fund Hillview’s replacement.

“No money, no project,” she said. “It really is trying to say, ‘How do we build to get to residents’ embracing the ability to support a bond?’”

During the hour-plus discussion, a handful of residents asked the council to consider additional elements in developing a new community center facility plan, such as a community pool and a dog park.

Los Altos resident David Smith urged the council to consider holding a community center design contest as a way to encourage better public involvement in the process. He said more public input could potentially mean greater buy-in if the city seeks a bond measure to fund a new facility in the future.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to get the community to say yes,” he noted.

The council approved funding for the consultant and the 10-month update schedule – with some alterations.

Councilwoman Val Carpenter said the use of applicable city commissions and other community groups should “be taken into consideration as we move forward” – a point some of her council colleagues, including Jan Pepper, agreed with.

“(The commissions) have the expertise in their particular areas, and perhaps we can even save some money on this project by utilizing their expertise,” Pepper said. “That also helps to get more community buy-in.”

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