Tag Archives: Berkeley pools

Sugar tax hits the sweet spot for Berkeley residents

Proponents of a soda tax were out in force in neon green at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeleyans seem eager to enact a new tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, but less likely to support other potential ballot measures being considered by the City Council.

A community survey of just over 500 voters taken last week showed healthy majorities for the so-called soda tax, whether it was for a new general tax or a special tax. In contrast, measures to increase the business license tax for landlords, establish a commercial vacancy tax, increase the parks parcel tax, and issue a pools bond failed to reach majorities or just crossed 50% support. City Council members said that support for measures often declines from levels indicated in community surveys.  … Continue reading »

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Willard pool reopening on agenda for park bond measure

Colorful graphics welcomed swimmers to Willard Pool when it was open. Photo: Protographer 23
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After two failures to secure a pools bond measure, advocates for the reopening of Willard Pool turned out in force at Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting. Pool supporters called for including Willard in a likely parks bond measure on the November ballot.

“This is a winning coalition,” said Robert Collier, one of the leaders of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, at the council meeting. “This is our time to win not just for the pools, but for the parks as well.”  … Continue reading »

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Council to study $20M parks bond, 10% parks tax boost

More than 30 Berkeley residents came out Wednesday to express support to for the city to re-open Willard Pool. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The Berkeley City Council is set to consider a potential $20 million parks bond in conjunction with a 10% increase to the existing parks tax after a unanimous vote Wednesday night by the city’s parks commission.

Over the past six months, the commission has held a series of public meetings to find a way to raise money for Berkeley parks, spurred in part by alarm at a projected lack of money in the city budget for both existing maintenance demands and new projects.

The combined bond and tax measures could cost approximately $45 extra per year on average for each Berkeley property.

“It doesn’t fix everything,” said Commission chairman Jim McGrath. “It’s not a bad start though.”

According to a draft report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting, the city is in desperate need of more money for Berkeley parks. … Continue reading »

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Willard Pool supporters turn out for parks meeting

Willard veg garden
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Dozens of supporters of Willard Pool turned out Wednesday night to ask the Parks and Waterfront Commission to take steps to raise money to reopen the facility, which was closed due to budget and maintenance issues in 2010.

The meeting was the third in a series of public meetings held by the commission to try to get a sense of community priorities related to parks and recreation needs in Berkeley. The commission will now take the feedback from the meetings and make a decision about how to proceed with fundraising in the wake of a $40 million backlog of unfunded projects, and a department that has 30 fewer staff positions that it did about a decade ago. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Tuolumne Camp supporters push to rebuild

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Supporters of Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp, which was destroyed by the Rim Fire in August, came out last week to urge fast action and promise volunteer muscle in the city’s efforts to rebuild the much-loved institution.

Supporters of the camp were among about 40 people who turned out for a meeting organized by the city’s Parks and Waterfront Commission to get community feedback from local residents about their hopes for parks and recreation facilities going forward. The meeting, which was held last Wednesday night, was the second in a series; the third meeting, which is focused on South Berkeley, takes place tonight, Oct. 16. (Scroll to the bottom of this story for details.)

Discussions are in their preliminary stages, but the commission may well be laying the groundwork for a new parcel tax, bond measure or some combination of the two. Staffing and financial cutbacks driven by challenging economic times have left holes in the city budget for spending on parks and recreation, and commission members say they want to find a way to address the shortfall. City staff described a $40 million backlog of unfunded projects, and 30 fewer staff positions than the department had as of about a decade ago.

Last Wednesday, Tuolumne Camp wasn’t the only focus for members of the public, but it was at the heart of many public comments. Attendees spoke about the camp’s importance, the high level of interest in volunteer assistance with rebuilding it, and the potential of perhaps expanding the program into a year-round facility. … Continue reading »

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4 public meetings planned on future of Berkeley parks

Some of the parks & rec issues shown on Tuesday night: closed stairs at Remillard Park, drainage problems at Ohlone dog park, inaccessible restrooms at the marina, and deteriorating basketball courts at San Pablo Park
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As part of a new planning effort starting next week, Berkeley’s Parks and Waterfront Commission wants to hear from the public about ways to improve city parks, pools, community centers, camps and the marina. In recent years, the city has struggled to find enough money to pay for its parks, pools and recreation facilities. Several council members have been spreading the word this month about the upcoming meetings, but otherwise there has been little publicity. In addition to a series of three meetings with commission members, Councilman Laurie Capitelli’s office, along with city staff, will meet with the public about John Hinkel Park and possible plans for Measure WW funds. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see past related coverage on Berkeleyside.

Oct. 2: James Kenney Community Center, 1720 Eighth St., 7–9 p.m.

The meeting will focus on West Berkeley and the Marina (council districts 1, 2 and 4), including Cesar Chavez and Aquatic parks, the West Campus pools, Rosa Parks and Washington schools parks, San Pablo Park, Strawberry Creek, Ohlone, Civic Center, mini-parks and others. … Continue reading »

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New aquatics center raises parking, planning concerns

UC Berkeley is planning to build a new Aquatics Center at 2222 Bancroft Way.
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UC Berkeley officials held a public hearing Wednesday night on plans to build a new aquatics center at 2222 Bancroft Ave., east of Oxford, and were told the one-story building is a lost opportunity for improving the area and would be too disruptive to parking.

UC hopes to start construction on the $15 million project in August to alleviate the crowding that now takes place at Spieker Pool. Currently, all 120 of Cal’s swimmers, divers and water polo athletes, as well as recreational swimmers, must use that facility, putting a severe strain on its capacity. … Continue reading »

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Pensions, infrastructure key Berkeley budget liabilities

Old City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Berkeley’s City Council on Tuesday night received the first biennial report on the city’s long-term liabilities. The detailed breakdowns in the report from city budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons make clear that the main areas with significant liabilities are police pensions, maintenance of city facilities, and watershed and storm drain maintenance and improvements.

Speaking about the presentation of the report, Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel said she hoped the Council would agree that budget reporting was improving generally and that the council members’ feedback would contribute to even more enhancements. She said the genesis of the current report could be traced back to 2005 when staff produced a report on employee benefits, then in 2008 when staff started putting information about unfunded liabilities in the budget document, and finally in the fall of 2011 when presentations were made on the status of capital assets and infrastructure. … Continue reading »

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Op-Ed: Berkeley — take steps to re-open Willard pool

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Sadly, Measures O & N failed to obtain the required 2/3 vote.

I urge the Berkeley Unified School District Board, and the Berkeley City Council, to take the steps necessary to re-open Willard pool as soon as possible.

Re-opening Willard pool would cost just a fraction of the costs that would have been incurred under Measures O & N. Prop 30 passed, and we ought to be able to afford to re-open Willard pool.

Berkeley has access to measure … Continue reading »

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Pools campaign holds mock swimathon for Measures N, O

Angel Jaramillo, a 4th grader at John Muir Elementary School, said he hoped that by 7th grade he would be swimming in a newly reopened Willard pool -- with his snorkel. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Angel Jaramillo, a 4th grader at John Muir Elementary School, has never swum at Berkeley’s Willard pool. His family sometimes take him to the Richmond Plunge. But, he said, he hopes that by the time he’s in 7th grade he will be able to swim at Willard — and he’ll be bringing his snorkeling mask.

Jaramillo was one of many children who came to the middle school pool on Derby and Telegraph on Saturday Oct. 13 to drum up support for ballot Measures N and O which would raise the funds necessary to re-open the pool, build a new warm pool, and maintain two other city pools. Willard Pool was closed in June 2010 and filled with dirt in January 2011. Corn and other edible plants now grow out of a section of the main pool and vegetation sprouts from the diving pool. … Continue reading »

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Bond measures take steps toward ballot

City Council members listen during a five-hour meeting with several contentious issues on Tuesday night. Kriss Worthington taped the anti-sitting ban poster to the podium before the meeting began. Photo; Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday to place a $30 million streets and watershed bond on the November ballot, but will hold off on the final language and shape of the measure until next week.

The council also adopted a final EIR for the West Berkeley Project and indicated its support for placing a measure on the ballot, but also deferred a final decision until next week so city staff can figure out wording. … Continue reading »

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City Council approves pools measure, debates streets

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A comparatively quiet City Council meeting sprang into life late last night as councilmembers discussed whether to prioritize street repair over watershed improvements in a November ballot bond measure. The council also approved unanimously to put a $19.4 million pools bond measure on the ballot, along with a parcel tax to pay for pools’ operational costs.

Public comment focused exclusively on the long-running campaign to restore the Willard Pool and the city’s warm pool. Although pools supporters were cheered by the unanimous support for the measure, many expressed concern about the need for a second tax measure. The measures are linked — both need to pass for either to be brought into effect.

“Just getting a bond measure is not enough. We need a bond measure that can pass,” said pools supporter Donna Mickleson. She described the “poison pill” of the linked measures as “disastrous.” … Continue reading »

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Save our pools: Invest in people, close the opportunity gap

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When the last bell rings and school is out for the summer, I want my fifth graders to be reading, having adventures, and… doing cannonballs. Swimming is good, clean fun — and pools offer water safety, fitness, healthy social development (removed from phones, television and video games) and a sense of community.

Prior to 2010, there were four operational city pools serving four different communities in Berkeley. King pool in north Berkeley, West Campus pool in west Berkeley, the warm … Continue reading »

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