Berkeley's pools may have another chance at the ballot box. The City's Parks and Waterfront Commission has scheduled three public meetings to assess public opinion about a possible ballot measure in next year's election to support the city's parks. pools, marina and summer camps.
This means your ideas (and vocal cords) are needed. Details below.
The Commission is in the process of considering whether to send the City Council a proposal for a parks bond measure (for capital costs) or a parcel tax (for annual operations costs) - or a Mello Roos measure, which is combination of the two.
The Parks & Waterfront Commission held meetings this summer to discuss strategies for a 2014 ballot measure. But commissioners want detailed ideas about what specific projects people want. They especially need to hear whether people would put a higher priority on restoring Parks Department staffing (i.e. a Parks Tax increase), or investing in high-profile, long-term repairs and capital projects (a bond measure), or some combination of the two (a Mello-Roos measure). Or whether people would prefer to do nothing and let our parks and pools continue to decline.
Very unfortunately, momentum for a ballot measure has been boosted by the Aug. 25 forest fire destruction of Berkeley's Tuolumne Family Camp, because the camp's insurance policy may cover only part of the potential cost of rebuilding.
Pools are likely to be part of any ballot measure package, but only part. Commissioners and City Council members have told us that the focus will be on projects with maximum bang for the buck - in other words, repairs and remodeling of existing facilities. Construction of expensive new projects such as a replacement Warm Pool are unlikely to make the cut this time. We're told that everything must be relatively low cost, with no big-ticket items that could be perceived as a white elephant.
Because the public meetings are intended to be a yardstick of public opinion, we need to make ourselves heard. Hence the vocal cords!
Here are possible pools ideas that have been floated:
King Pool: remodeling the poolhouse; substitution of the chlorine system with a non-chlorine system; landscaping.
West Campus Pool: remodeling the poolhouse; substitution of the chlorine system with a non-chlorine system; conversion of the dive pool to a children's splash pool; landscaping.
Willard Pool: dig out the pool, which has been filled with dirt since December 2010, and repair it to full operating condition; conversion of the dive pool to a water slide; landscaping.
Every Kid 2 Swim: expansion of this program to ensure that every Berkeley third grader can learn to swim.
Here are the meeting details:
- October 2: James Kenney Community Center, 1720 Eighth, 7pm – 9pm. The focus of the meeting will be on parks and facilities in West Berkeley & the Marina (Council Districts 1, 2 &4) including Chavez and Aquatic Parks, West Campus Pool, Rosa Park and Washington Schools Parks, San Pablo Park, Strawberry Creek, Ohlone, Civic Center, mini-parks and others.
- October 9: Live Oak Community Center, Fireside Room, 1301 Shattuck, 7pm – 9pm. The focus of the meeting will be on parks and facilities in North Berkeley (Districts 5 & 6) including King Pool, King Park, Live Oak, John Hinkel, Indian Rock, Great Stoneface, Codornices, Dorothy Bolte, Terrace View, Grizzly Peak and, Thousand Oaks Schools Parks, and others.
- October 16: South Berkeley Branch Library, 1901 Russell, 6pm – 7:30pm. The focus of the meeting will be on parks and facilities in South Berkeley (Districts 3, 7, & 8) including Willard Park and Willard Swim Center, Oak Park, Monkey Island, Greg Brown, Grove, Bateman Mall, Halcyon Commons, and the LeConte, Malcolm X, and John Muir Schools Parks.
If you are are unable to attend the public meetings, you may submit written comments by October 30 to the Parks and Waterfront Commission, at email@example.com.