Burlingame weighs options for centennial celebration

Plans to mark Burlingame’s 100th anniversary on June 6 have been scaled back to a level that the cash-strapped city can afford.

At first, a simple centennial clock was proposed in 2006 to celebrate the city’s centennial.

From there, plans evolved late last year into an $800,000 plaza on a downtown parking lot next to the Caltrain station. Those plans were nixed.

Later, a $700,000 bandstand and bocce ball court was proposed for Washington Park. That idea was denied in January.

Now, the celebration has changed to a considerably cheaper, scaled down idea.

The council will decide tonight whether to spruce up the cement 4- to 5-foot-tall U.S. Geological Survey survey marker and surrounding area in Washington Park and add a flagpole for about $30,000.

A bust of Anson Burlingame, the city’s namesake, and a plaque could be added atop the marker for another $15,000 to $30,000, bringing the total for the celebrations to between $30,000 and $60,000.

The council could also approve spending a couple thousand dollars on adding a phrase such as “Centennial Year 2008” to its “Welcome to Burlingame” signs on El Camino Real.

The plans may seem paltry compared with the 20-foot-by-20-foot bandstand or the train station plaza. But for a city facing $202 million worth of capital needs, including its aging storm drain system, splurging on an extravagant celebration does not appear be in the cards.

“The bottom line is to keep the cost down,” Mayor Rosalie O’Mahony said. “So I’ll go with what is reasonable and what is not going to be a burden on our budget.”

The council has put $10,000 per year for the past five years into a special budget for the celebration, said Randy Schwartz, city staff centennial celebration liaison.

It has also received sponsorships from local businesses and was hoping to make money from other centennial events, such as its $125 per person gala on June 6, he said.

But fundraising has been difficult and some of that money is also being spent on centennial events.

“When we were brainstorming [other centennial projects] we didn’t have price tags attached and once we did the idea of raising that kind of money started to look unfeasible,” Councilmember Terry Nagel said.

Albeit smaller, the statue and plaque would provide historical value, said Russ Cohen, president of the Burlingame Historical Society.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

Planning centennial

Early 2006: City begins planning for centennial

Late 2006: City proposes $800,000 train station plaza </p>

November 2006: Officials argue against train station plaza

December 2006: City proposes $700,000 bandstand in Washington Park

Jan. 7: Council votes against bandstand idea

Late January: City studies Washington Park monument fixes and statue

Tonight: Council votes on monument fixes and statue

June 6: City turns 100 years old

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