Public Comment

Of Pools and Many Things, and Why I am Supporting Measure C

by Shirley Dean
Thursday May 20, 2010 - 11:23:00 AM

On June 8th you will be asked to vote on Measure C to provide funds to construct, repair and maintain Berkeley’s four public pools – a therapeutic warm water pool to be built at West Campus, repair of the existing West Campus and Willard pools, and repair and expand the King Middle School pool. I’m voting yes on Measure C, and writing this because many people have asked me why. 

I know it isn’t easy to vote to raise our already high taxes but consider that a community’s values are reflected in what we leave for future generations to use and enjoy. Our existing pools have reached the end of their lives. They are leaking, crumbling away and maintaining these energy-hogs today is literally throwing money away. The City Manager recommends permanently closing Willard Pool if Measure C is not approved. The School Board has decided to demolish the Berkeley High building that currently houses the warm water pool in July next year. The loss of these two pools and the continued deterioration of the two remaining pools will be the legacy that we leave to our children and their children if Measure C is not approved. Is this what we want for Berkeley’s future?  

Berkeley has always held strong values around caring for the elderly and disabled, providing recreational services that builds a healthier community for everyone, and creating positive physical activities for our youth. Measure C supports those values.  

Measure C’s opponents argue there is a better plan. I agree that rehabbing the current warm water pool would have been better than rebuilding a new one. However, that decision is past history. Years ago, the Mayor and School Board might have been able to reach a better decision, but they didn’t and nothing can be done about it now. The School Board says they made their decision because they need the building for classrooms. Once the existing warm water pool is demolished and Willard Pool closed where will the money come from to rebuild them without Measure C? The one and only public therapeutic, warm water pool in the entire Bay Area will be in Palo Alto. A long way for Berkeley’s aging and disabled population to travel.  

Opponents also worry that non-residents will use our pools, particularly the warm water pool. Of course they will, just as Berkeley residents who are turned off by today’s poor condition of our pools now use pools in El Cerrito and elsewhere. Non-residents can be charged a higher price per use than the fee for resident use. A new, state-of-the art warm water pool might even become a revenue resource for our city! 

It was a few civic-minded Berkeley citizens with amazing foresight that stepped forward to create Tilden Park in the midst of the Great Depression. As you vote on Measure C, think about the legacy that we leave for the future . Vote Yes on Measure C. Thank you.