The Berkeley Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to provide as much as 1,900 additional square feet of land to build a pool that’s comparable in size to the existing Berkeley High School warm water pool, if the need arises.
Boardmembers also re-asserted their willingness to host the warm water pool at the West Campus.
At its April 15 board meeting, the board received the draft Citywide Pools Master Plan from a task force that outlined a preferred option and two alternatives. The master plan seeks to improve and replace the city’s public pools.
Board members were scheduled to vote on whether the city should move ahead with the environmental analysis. District officials had recommended that the board approve this step. The Daily Planet reported on April 16 that the board had asked city officials to proceed with the master plan’s environmental review, but the district’s facilities director Lew Jones told the Daily Planet May 1 that the board had not taken any action on the matter.
“They didn’t ask them to proceed, but they didn’t ask them not to proceed either,” Jones said, explaining that the city did not need any formal direction from the school board to carry out an environmental review.
Instead, the board voted unanimously to accept the report from the pools task force and affirmed their willingness to house a warm pool at the West Campus.
The task force’s preferred plan includes a warm pool and a recreational pool at West campus, a competition pool at King and a lap pool with play features at Willard.
The two alternatives presented include a smaller warm pool and maintaining the existing lap pool at West Campus, a competition pool at King and a lap pool at Willard.
According to Jones, both the board and the council “appeared to express interest in exploring a modified alternative plan, which kept the current outdoor pool at West Campus and allowed the construction of a warm pool, similar to its current size, at West Campus.” This plan, said Jones, would likely see a warm pool built on the western edge of the property and the elimination of the dive pool, while the existing lap pool would be saved.
“In order to build the warm pool at this size and maintain the existing outdoor lap pool, the warm pool must bump out to the north and go beyond the current fence line,” Jones explained in his report to the board, adding that the approximately 1,900 additional square feet needed for the job would extend approximately 32 feet north of the current fence and about 58 feet from east to west.
At Wednesday’s meeting, district officials once again recommended that the board encourage the council to proceed with the environmental analysis of the task force’s preferred plan and the alternative plan that keeps the existing lap pool and builds a new warm pool at West Campus similar to the size of the existing one.
But the board instead approved a motion to host a warm pool at West Campus, retain its
existing lap pool and add up to an additional 1,900 square feet of land to build a pool comparable to its current size, which is around 2,250 square feet.
“They are really kind of silent on it,” Huyett told the Planet of the board’s decision to not address the environmental review issue. “They are not for it or against it. They are leaving it up to the city. The board sees its role as very limited in terms of the pools—we give permission to the city to use our pools or our property.”
Huyett said that it was now up to the city to take the master plan to the next level.
“It [the board’s vote] does clear the way for the city,” Huyett said. “I think they have done the positive thing. They are welcoming the city to use district property and are also fine with giving additional land.”
The city and the district, Huyett said, have yet to work out an agreement about the land.
“It could be a very long term lease with the city or just permission to use the property,” he said. “We haven’t decided that yet.”