Burlingame seeks design ideas for plaza 

A citywide brainstorming session has begun for the creation of Centennial Plaza, which will commemorate the city’s 100th birthday and replace the aging parking lot and flagpole in front of the historic train station, the city’s most prized icon.

Preliminary ideas for the plaza will be unveiled at the centennial parade in front of City Hall on June 2, where thousands of people are expected to fill the streets. The parade will feature about 1,500 participants marching from Roosevelt School on Vancouver Avenue to Washington Park on Burlingame Avenue.

Randy Schwartz, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, is collecting public feedback for the plaza. The idea for a plaza was in part spurred by general sentiment that the current 19-space parking lot was not complementing the train station.

"It looks like a very blighted parking lot with odd slopes and cracked pavement and no landscape to speak of," said John Cahalan, a landscape architect who will be designing the plaza.

City officials said the plaza would hold community events, such as a farmer’s market, outdoor performances and other civic events. City officials are anticipating the project will cost $200,000, which may be funded by private donations. The city is devoting $25,000 toward planning the design.

An array of ideas is floating around, including installing a centennial clock, a gazebo, vintage street lamps powered by solar panels, a water fountain and Wi-Fi access. As to what the final design will be is still anyone’s guess.

Resident Bobbi Benson wants the plaza to exclude parking altogether.

"We [have] plenty of parking spots by the doughnut shop," she said.

Charles Voltz, co-chair of Citizens for a Better Burlingame, said the plaza is a chance for the city to create a permanent public square.

"The demand for parking is so strong. But if you don’t use the public space [when it’s available], you’re really missing something that’s important to the community," he said.

Construction of the plaza might be done in phases and may not be completed by the actual centennial on June 6, 2008.

A Centennial Executive Committee meeting will take place 3 p.m. today at the Recreation Center, 850 Burlingame Ave.

bfoley@examiner.com

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