Six new bicycle boulevards are also on the list, as is a more aggressive effort to patch up damaged city streets. Also included are electrical and heating-system improvements to the Palo Alto Children's Theatre and the Lucie Stern Community Center, respectively.
But with the city facing a $510 million "infrastructure backlog," city officials voiced concerns Wednesday about badly needed items that currently have no source of funding. This includes replacement of the aging Municipal Services Center in the baylands, and upgrades to the city's police headquarters and two fire stations.
Members of the Planning and Transportation Commission, which discussed the city's capital-improvement program Wednesday night, had no major objections to the list of items, which would cost the city about $72 million over five years. But Vice Chair Samir Tuma asked staff what the city plans to do about the staggering backlog in infrastructure maintenance.
"I'm seeing buildings built in the 1960s and we're talking about not having the money to make the electric upgrades," Tuma said. "The infrastructure is in real peril.
"As I look at these backlog numbers and how it grows over the years it gets worse."
Lalo Perez, director of the city's Administrative Services Department, said staff is currently working on a plan to involve the community in the difficult process of setting priorities. Perez said the city might have to consider funding more projects through bond sales.
"We'll probably need to look at a financing mechanism issuing a bond debt," Perez said. "If we have very specific areas with specific beginning and ending dates and targets, the community is willing to listen to that."
But budget woes notwithstanding, city officials are preparing to spend more on street repairs in 2011. Mike Sartor, assistant director of the Public Works Department, said staff plans to make street resurfacing a high priority in the coming year.
The city is budgeting $5.7 million for street repairs in fiscal year 2011 an increase over the $4 million budgeted this year.
The city also plans to build six new "bicycle boulevards," with improved intersections and bike lanes. These include new lanes at Homer Avenue, Matadero Avenue, Park Boulevard, Everett Avenue and Chaucer Street. The existing bike boulevard on Bryant Street would be extended.
The bicycle-improvements program would be funded between fiscal years 2012 and 2015 and would cost an estimated $670,000.
The city also plans to spend $7.8 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 to close the controversial landfill in Byxbee Park. The City Council is scheduled to discuss the landfill's closure and debate the future of the city composting operation on April 5.
Staff narrowed down the list of projects by using a set of criteria and a point system that grades projects on how well they fit these criteria. Projects that received the highest scores were those that respond to council direction, get funding from an outside source, and promote health, public safety, efficiency and sustainability.
Upgrades to the Art Center, expansion of the Main Library and improvements to the busy intersection of El Camino Real and Stanford Avenue were among the highest-scoring projects.
David Ramberg, assistant director of the Administrative Services Department, said the budget numbers are still tentative and will be revised in coming months by staff and the council. He called the list of capital projects a "starting point" for the budget discussion.
The council is scheduled to review the proposed capital budget in May and adopt the budget for fiscal year 2011 in late June.