Centennial to highlight the arts

City officials plan to use next year’s centennial celebrations — which will mark the city’s 100th birthday with great fanfare — as an opportunity to create public art and local literature that will outlast the parties and parades.

Though picnics, historical tours and an old-time baseball game are planned for the year between June 2007 and June 2008, the city will also welcome a new commemorative monument outside the Burlingame Caltrain Station and the first book produced by the Burlingame Historical Society in decades.

There are several pieces of public children’s art around Burlingame, such as some tiles from the 1970s along a wall next to the downtown post office, according to Councilman and historical society President Russ Cohen. Murals adorn buildings on Rollins Road south of Burlingame Avenue and on the side of a building on California Drive, while a dancing maidens fountain holds court in a parking lot behind Burlingame Avenue. However, much of the public art has deteriorated faster than it is being replaced, Cohen said.

Parks and Recreation Director Randy Schwartz told the City Council this week that the centennial monument would likely hold court in front of the train station, where the historical society plans to relocate. A design contest start next month, when participants will suggest designs and also a way to have donors contribute to the cost of their piece.

Meanwhile, Joanne Garrison, who is spearheading the book project, said she has been working on the book since May and that the particulars have not been finalized. The last historical society pamphlet, called “Lively Memories,” came out in 1977, and Garrison said she thought it was a good time to have another publication added to the list.

“We want to have something substantial on every decade in the city’s history — so that’s certainly quite a bit of information,” Garrison said.

Several ideas have been thrown around on how to celebrate the city’s birthday, but the council agreed that the funding must be available to support the events. There were concerns among council members at Monday’s meeting about if and how the centennial monument — and the centennial itself — could be self-supporting.

The City Council over the last several years has set aside $50,000 for the centennial celebration. Aside from those available funds and some estimation of an advertising revenue stream, there is still no concrete figure on how much the events will cost and which events will pay for themselves.

Schwartz said a firmer budget should be available next month.

tramroop@examiner.com

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