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July 03, 2018



The councilman who let his kids decide which style he should like best should just throw in the towel and go home. Really?


Joe: Thank you for the update, I missed the meeting.
@Mom: who is councilman that let his kids decide?

Bruce Dickinson

Guys, this may surprise you, but Bruce Dickinson really doesn't have a lotta bones to pick with the Pavilions decision and the reasons for each council members decision were well thought out and effectively articulated from numerous perspectives. And you know, coming from me, that means a lot!

Yours truly, however, does think that architectural comparisons to the Farnsworth House, the Glass House, and Frank Lloyd Wright were a BIG stretch, I'm really not sure this building has the architectural gravitas to be a classic in 50 years. I also found it humorous that Brownrigg referred to the Eichler homes as revered "At this point". Point being (no pun intended), that the modern vernacular goes through fads and Eichlers seem to be caught at the tail end of the mid-century modern fad that was culturally reinforced by "Mad Men" so to speak, but that ship has pretty much sailed.

The interaction with the outdoors is the strongest argument for the Pavilions and agree that someone using the Rec Center would appreciate that interaction, which doesn't really show that well "on the boards" especially from the perspective of the inside out. Personally, I think this design will be fine for 20-25 years, maybe longer if they improve it a bit.

Bruce Dickinson is heartened that most feel that the final Pavilions design still needs some flushing out, which it obviously does, and I think even those supporting the Mission design should really provide valuable feedback to soften the look of the modern design. Great to see The Legends of the community representing in the audience and absolutely they should be leaned on for further wisdom and guidance.

Nice work, Burlingame! You make this Dickinson proud!


Thanks, Bruce. I think we are mostly in agreement. Having lived in New Canaan, CT for awhile and knowing the use Philip Johnson made of the Glass House (as well as the brick house he had built as a guest house for the more modest.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_House) and how shielded the whole property is from the public, the comparison ran a bit thin for me too.

In the end I'm sure it will be fine, but I am betting it will take more maintenance and fine tuning of the mechanicals than a well-designed Mission-style building would have taken. We'll never know though, will we?

Bruce Dickinson

Dynamite points, Joe. First of all Bruce Dickinson still thinks the Pavilions design should have been cheaper given it looks a little generic-ish and modern building designs tend to be cheaper as why do builders keep proposing them? Let's face it, it's not due to their generosity!

Secondly, a mission style building is 1 power-wash and 2 window washes max per year. With the glass walls, the Pavilions design is going to have to be cleaned all the time to preserve the sanctity of the indoor/outdoor environmental interaction, if you will. A bunch of dirty windows may end up being more of an eyesore and ruin the whole experience. It's fine if properly maintained, but again an already over-priced Rec center is going to become more overpriced with the cleaning costs, and as you mention, potentially higher cooling and heating costs.

Just ask Apple if their new glass-centric store designs are cheaper to maintain!? But alas, I think everyone already knows the answer to that.


Everything looks great when it's shiny and new right? I keep looking at all the modern structures going up and find myself thinking what will this building look like in 20 or 30 years? But hell why should I worry about it..may not be around in 30 years to look at the results!


Today's paper had this letter


Regarding the story, “Burlingame selects modern rec center” in the July 4 edition of the Daily Journal, the Burlingame City Council embraces new over old. Perhaps the voters should adopt the same sentiment when elections start.

Tim Donnelly



"Critical Thinking."
"Common Sense."
"Environmental Impact."
"Finical Responsibility."
With the debt the City of Burlingame has accrued for employee benefits, our "Fair City" is only able to "Service" the account.
Can we just "pay down" one multi million dollar debt before we get in to another?


From the city newsletter:

One of the first steps in the Burlingame Community Center development project will be to relocate the existing playground in Washington Park. The goal is to have the new playground in place before breaking ground on the new Community Center in early 2020. For more information about the new Burlingame Community Center, click here.

The Parks & Recreation Department is forming the Washington Park Playground Committee to help develop the new playground plan, which will include equipment options for the Park. The Department will select three community members to be part of the Committee.

Committee members will be asked to attend several evening meetings, and a final presentation at a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting. The process is expected to take several months.


Didn't the Recreation and Park Dept. spend a $100,000.00 plus, on developing a Park on the Bayside that never happened?
-What happened to that project?
-What happened to the money and plans?-What was the result of the information and work put into the development?
-What was the Bid processing procedure?
-Where is that information available?

The same thing could happen again.

Especially if the same "People,"
-City Manager
-City Attorney
- Recreation/Park Director
-every single City of Burlingame Elder that were allowed to waste City of Burlingame Monies at the Bayfront are in charge, again, of this Recreation and Park Dept. "Debacle."
There should be a "place" on the City of Burlingame Web Site to provide "transparency" for anyone who wants to look into major City of Burlingame infrastructure investments, Bidding process, and who signs off on these "Humdingers" too.
At the very minimum, it would be a "Start" to be able to address City of Burlingame Elders in this forum.
Questions and response.

Bless Senator John McCain's family.
Thank you for your services, and sacrifices you made for us all.
Senator John McCain might very well be "The Last American Hero."


Holly, not too sure what you are talking about, but that's not unusual. The only park being discussed on the bay side is the one on States Land near Kincaids. The State makes the decision what goes out there, with the Cities input. They've held meetings and haven't decided as far as I know. Lots of options which may include a hotel.


When the 7th or 8th City of Burlingame Recreation/ Park Dept. Director was hired, (7 or 8th Director hired within 4 years) the New Director, I believe Margaret is her name, pushed for a Multi Million Dollar City of Burlingame Park out at the Bayside.

I appreciate comments regarding the information I have Posted.
However, if you looked into the facts, that are available by request(I believe a personal audience with Margaret is doable too.) You would discover that you have, Laura, zero information regarding facts and are only repeating what someone else told you.
Be a responsible Community Member.
Read the Prospectus.

Look into this issue Laura, and apologize to me.
Fire all the sycophants you have gathered. They are just dragging you down.
I am looking forward to your "investigation."
See you soon at the Burlingame Country Club.


Regarding my quote-"$100,000.00."
I may have been thinking Turkish lira instead of US Dollars...


Not really worth a response, but 1st, only three directors. One, Randy went to another city. 2nd Jim, retired. Then Margaret was the third. Far cry from 7 or 8 so check your own facts! The rest isn't even worth responding too.


The total estimated cost for the new rec center project has now increased to over $50 million, per pages 6 & 7 of this staff report being discussed at tomorrow evening’s city council meeting:


You can compare these current cost estimates with those in the staff report below from 2015 (with 2014 estimates); see last page/last paragraph. The building cost itself has more than doubled since then - estimated now at $34 million versus $15 million. I doubt labor & materials inflation alone accounts for the increase:


Finally, I have yet to see any estimates of how much it will cost to operate/maintain the new building on an ongoing basis, nor how much additional fee revenue is projected to help cover these costs.


Thanks, Lorne. That find is worthy of its own post which folks can find here:


Account Deleted

The city council is set to approve a $40 million bond issue this evening for the new rec center. The estimated interest/financing costs are $12 million. So, along with the estimated $52 million of construction costs, this brings the estimated total project cost to $64 million. The bonds will be lease revenue bonds, using the library and its adjacent parking structure as collateral.


Just Visiting

Lorne and others, as posed on the other thread about this:

With interest rates still at historical lows, isn't now the time to bond for capital improvements? And the city has a AAA bond rating--recently improved from AA. So the city probably has the lowest bonding (borrowing) cost one could hope for. Isn't that the financially sound time to act?

Capital improvements ARE expensive, that's why entities borrow and governments bond for them. There's nothing unique about that. Shouldn't our government use this opportunity to undertake those capital projects?

Or, alternatively, should the City simply abandon capital projects, and allow the rec center, City Hall, etc. to continue their deterioration?

Account Deleted

During this Monday’s Council meeting, the Finance Director confirmed the forthcoming bonds have yet to be rated by the credit rating agencies (AAA upgrade was for the city’s outstanding pension obligation bonds, and any general obligation bonds- for which the city has currently has nothing outstanding). The city’s financial advisory firm is assuming a 3.5% interest rate; this seems a tad conservative given AA to AAA 30 year muni bonds are currently yielding closer to 2-2.5%. That said, we won’t know what the actual interest rate will be until the bonds are issued next month. But, assuming a 2-2.5% rate, the total interest on a $40MM bond issue would be about $14 million. So now getting closer to a total project cost of $70 million. Hope the magnitude and scale of this project/spending level will be worth it.


RE: Burlingame Park Directors since 1989:
-Rich Quadri
-Tim Richmond
-Randy Schwatz
-Greg Foell
-Jim Skeels
-Margarte Globstat
-*Jim Nantell

That is seven Park Directors since 1989.

Jennifer Pfaff

Hi Lorne,
I'm guessing (actually, I'm positive) that you know a lot more about financing issues than I, but wanted to mention that the earlier plans for the Rec. Center, back in the early 2000s were estimated to be $43 million in the early phases.

I'm not sure if you are familiar with that earlier version, but that plan had no underground parking. The main structure was going to be on the corner of Burlingame Square (where the tennis courts are) and would have involved the (controversial) purchase of a couple of buildings across the street from the Park (Burlingame Avenue East) for some kind of parking configuration.

This was right before the recession; economically, things were looking very good in this city. Chances are pretty good that had plans for that project (including the purchase the properties across the street) been realized, costs would have continued to rise. I'm guessing at the end of the day, we were actually talking about $50M +, in early 2000 dollars.

But then, the recession hit and the whole thing was laid to rest. I just wanted to bring that up for historical perspective. I don't think anybody likes to spend money unnecessarily, but in fairness, I'm not sure if there would have been any difference between monies spent then, and those spent now.

One thing I do believe, however, is that this plan, all around, is a big improvement and better product than what had been worked on, before.

If at the end of the day, the finished costs are roughly the same, the only real argument becomes the one we've had for a number of years-- do we need a new center, or can we manage just fine with the 1949 version.

I went to painting, ceramic, and guitar classes there for years, and played in the sand playground (with big swings, and a very cool metal train for climbing). At that point, the center was only about 20 years old. My kids spent lots of time there, too, living through the period where beach sand started to be frowned upon, and most of the surface was replaced with some iteration of recycled tires.

The building has been added to and altered a number of times when it made economic sense to do so. But now, we really do need the new one to serve all residents with all kinds of needs and passions.

I'm pretty sure everyone can agree, however, that Burlingame definitely got a lot of bang for our buck on the 1949 structure, right!?

Cathy Baylock

Thank you, Jen. We are both a part of the long history of rebuilding the Rec Center and we both spent three years on the committee (with many different community members) and thoughtfully came up with a plan that will serve us well for the next 70 years. My thoughts about what Lorne is saying about bond interest is as follows: Bonding our capital structure is akin to mortgaging one's house. Most of us could not have paid cash for our homes and by the time we saved enough money to buy it, the building would have gone up immensely in value. In my calculation, the $12 million Lorne cites as bond carrying costs amortizes to approximately $17,000 per year if the building does indeed last 70 more years. Likewise, as Jen states, waiting to build the building for cash would cause the building costs to increase (probably by more than $12 million) by the time it was built. I think the process we used to vet the design of the new structure as well as using our great interest rate environment to finance it, is money well spent!

Account Deleted

Thank you both, Jen and Cathy. I appreciate your respective responses and perspective (and your civility, as always:)).

Just for the record, Cathy, I'm not suggesting the city should have paid cash.

Rather, I'm drawing attention to the scale and scope - and consequent all-in cost- of the project.

Just four years ago, Jen, the estimated cost was $37MM.. now its $52MM (that's quite a jump in construction costs, etc, over a relatively short period of time).

Plus, I think its worthwhile to make Burlingame residents aware of the the additional cost of debt financing, as usually just the aforementioned construction costs ($37MM and $52MM) are cited by city officials. Bond interest is a real cost, too.

And finally, these are just the upfront capital costs we're talking about; I have yet to see any estimates of ongoing operating costs for the new center.

Either way, as I said earlier, hopefully the approximate $70 million of capital costs will be worth it.

Jennifer Pfaff

Yes-- many times "ditto"!~!


Thank you Jennifer Pfaff for a very important summary.
I, for one, want to be the first to start an "On-Line/Write in Campaign" to elect Jennifer Pfaff to any position she wants, up to the Queen of Burlingame. all that aside, thank you Ms. Pfaff for the thoughtful input you share with the community....
Queen of Burlingame-Kind of Catchy.

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