Tag Archives: Willard Pool

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 Taguso
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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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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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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

A view of Berkeley's downtown from the Skydeck. 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

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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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City, citizens debate substandard streets, a closed pool

Measure M will provide more funds for improving streets, but it still will fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The bulk of this week’s City Council meeting was consumed by public comment and councilmember debate on potential city measures for the November general election ballot.

The three areas considered by the council — streets and watershed, affordable housing, and pools — are facing considerable headwinds to reach the necessary two-thirds vote by the public, according to a community survey commissioned by the city. The survey of 400 likely voters by Lake Research Partners concluded that only the streets and watershed measures has a chance to pass in November (details on the survey at the bottom of this article).

That conclusion, however, was passionately challenged by both pools and affordable housing advocates on Tuesday night. Pools supporters are seeking $6.4 million to renovate and reopen Willard Pool, and $13 million to build a new warm pool (both would also need parcel taxes to fund ongoing operations). The housing measure would impose a 2% gross receipts tax on landlords with five units or more, with the revenues used to support affordable housing. … Continue reading »


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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Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council

Sophie Hahn
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Sophie Hahn, who grew up in Berkeley and sits on the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board, has announced she is running for City Council District Five, which is currently the post held by Laurie Capitelli.

Hahn says she will provide a different brand of leadership, one that is community-oriented and transparent. “Berkeley is a fantastic place, but people don’t see progress here in basic areas like upkeep and services. We need to make decisions based on facts and data changes, not because of political ties and favoritism,” she says.

Hahn says she believes Berkeley residents are frustrated because they have not been properly informed about the city’s financial predicament. “We have $1 billion of unfunded infrastructure needs that we are committed to paying for and we have to make some hard choices,” she says. “But we have to show trust and transparency in our communication with people. We haven’t even shared a plan with the community for the city’s economic future.”

Hahn cites the decision to raise the compensation of former Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz shortly before he retired as an example of the way the current City Council displays a “disconnect with the realities people are facing.” … Continue reading »

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Community rallies to get pool measure on ballot

Students, parents, and community members rally on Sunday to reopen Willard Pool. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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About 75 people rallied on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Derby Street in Berkeley Sunday afternoon to convince the City Council to put a pool bond measure on the November ballot.

Holding signs that read “Save Willard Pool,” and “Honk if you like to swim,” the group of students, parents, and community members yelled, chanted, and encouraged people to sign a petition that called for the reopening of Willard pool, which was closed and filled with dirt in 2010. (The petition is also posted at Change.org.)

“I would like to see Willard Pool open again,” said Amelie Melde Fontenay, a parent of a Willard School student. “My only son got here just in time to see the pool filled in with dirt. I don’t think it’s fair that the other two (middle) schools have pools and Willard doesn’t.” … Continue reading »

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