Tag Archives: Willard Pool

Berkeley parks advocates push back after council drops bond from November ballot

The Berkeley rose garden pergola needs major repairs and has been closed to park visitors since April. Photo: Daniel Parks
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The public dismay was palpable last month when the Berkeley City Council decided, in a surprise move, to put a parks tax before voters this fall without a related bond measure that would have infused parks and pools around the city with much-needed cash, reversing an earlier vote on the items.

The $1.7 million parks tax, if approved by voters, would essentially maintain the status quo for maintenance and staffing needs, and cost the owner of an average-size home an additional $43 a year. (That same homeowner already pays about $240 a year for the existing parks tax.)

Had it gone to voters, the proposed $20 million parks bond could have helped re-open Willard Pool, improve the King and West Campus pools, put millions toward Aquatic Park, James Kenney Park and the much-loved rose garden, and repair tennis courts and ballfields around the city, in addition to addressing other significant needs. (See a financial breakdown of several possible iterations of the bond and tax proposal.)

The city estimated that the joint bond and tax measure would have added just $15 more than the tax alone to the bill for owners of an average Berkeley home, defined by the city as 1,900 square feet. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley voters likely to see joint parks funding measure

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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Two Berkeley officials put forward a new proposal Tuesday night for a combined bond and tax measure that could go before voters in November.

The idea, presented by Berkeley City Council members Linda Maio and Laurie Capitelli, would cost property owners about $58 a year for an average Berkeley home, which is defined by the city as 1,900 square feet.

The combined bond and tax measure, which is called a Mello-Roos, could bring in $19 million to improve existing parks, re-open Willard Pool and create public gardens in a two-block section of the abandoned Santa Fe Right of Way in South Berkeley, among other projects. It would also include an annual $1.1 million operations tax to help pay for parks maintenance. (The bond would be paid off over 30 years.) … Continue reading »

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Plans firm up for Berkeley soda tax, city parks measures

Proponents of a soda tax were out in force in neon green at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley officials voted Tuesday night on ballot language related to a November 2014 soda tax proposal, but exactly what sort of fundraising request might come before voters to help the city’s parks remains to be determined.

Regarding the soda tax, voters will be asked whether the city should “impose a general tax of 1 cent per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages,” payable by distributors with gross annual receipts over a certain amount.

Ballot language proposed Tuesday night would limit the tax to businesses with receipts over $100,000, but Councilman Laurie Capitelli said the number is still a bit in flux, and will be clarified in June when the Berkeley City Council makes its final decision on city-driven ballot measures. … 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

Fireplace
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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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Commission, public discuss priorities for Berkeley’s parks

Strawberry Creek Park. Photo: City of Berkeley
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The Berkeley Parks and Waterfront Commission met Wednesday night at the James Kenney Community Center to hold a public forum on parks in West Berkeley and the Marina. The meeting is the first of three that will address how to improve Berkeley’s city parks and meet residential needs.

Roughly 25 residents attended the meeting — a strong showing for a commission meeting — and spent nearly two hours testifying about the condition of about a half dozen parks and facilities. The focus was on the Berkeley Marina, Strawberry Creek Park, Aquatic Park and the West Campus Swim Center.

Berkeley is holding these meetings because budget and staff reductions are forcing the city to prioritize its park resources, said Commissioner Jim McGrath. McGrath pointed out that there are 30 fewer staff positions in the city’s Parks Department than there were 11 years ago, and $40 million worth of backlogged maintenance and repair projects. … 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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Opinionator

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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Capitelli, Bates lead in campaign fundraising

Four years after voters adopted a new vision for downtown, they may be asked to refine it. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Three months before the November election, City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli has amassed the largest campaign war chest in Berkeley, with $13,015 in donations from a variety of people, including his fellow realtors and politicians.

Mayor Tom Bates, who is running for his fourth term, came in next, with $11,770 in donations, according to campaign expenditure reports that were filed on July 31.

But the various city-wide measures that were so contentious when aired before the City Council have not yet garnered any substantial funds, according to the records. No money has been raised for the civil sidewalks initiative, which would ban people from sitting in commercial districts from 7 am to 10 pm. Those in favor or against new zoning for West Berkeley have not yet even formed committees. Neither have those supporting a new redistricting plan.

The Committee for the Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance raised $4,153 from April 1 to June 30, bringing its donation level to $5,958, with the bulk of that coming from the group’s treasurer, Dean Metzger. He donated $4,618 to the campaign, including a $1,000 loan. … Continue reading »

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City Council approves pools measure, debates streets

Willard-veg-garden1
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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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