Public Comment

Response to Commentary in Favor of Measures H and I

By Henrik Bull
Saturday October 02, 2010 - 11:18:00 AM

The Reader Commentary from Cathy Campbell, Karen Hemphill, William Huyett and Eric Weaver carefully avoids any discussion of the Bond Authorization limit of $210 million for Measure I. In 2000 we voted for a $116.5 Bond Issue which promised new classrooms at Berkeley High as the highest priority. In the ensuing 10 years no new classrooms were built. Instead, the money was spent on a $10 million bus and transportation center, and another $10+ million will be spent on a new "high school stadium under construction". Neither the transportation center nor the Stadium (also called Field House in recent BUSD literature) were mentioned in the 2000 Measure AA voter's manual.  


The 2200 seat Stadium and an attached two story building of 14,000 square feet, with lockers, bathrooms, offices, press room, etc., is planned to be located to the East of the football field, in the middle of the open space.This project is scheduled for Phase One. In addition, new bleachers with 500 seats for visitors will be built on the other side of the field. Drawings can be found on the website. Click on Projects, Educational. 


The Reader Commentary letter states that the Measure I money " needed to build a fifteen classroom building on Milvia Street...". No mention is made of the new 13,000 square foot gymnasium that will be part of the same building. Again, see the architect's web site. Is the BUSD trying to hide the expenditures for non academic uses? 


Berkeley professes to be progressive and "Green." Yet, it is well known that the greenest building is one that already exists. Energy is embodied in the existing building, energy is spent in demolition, and more energy is used in the new construction. It takes 40 - 60 years for a new energy efficient building to make up for this energy waste, and the existing building can be retrofitted with the latest technology.  


The BUSD never seriously studied the adaptive reuse of the Old Gymnasium at Berkeley High. As a retired architect, I did such an investigation and found that the Old Gym could be renovated for all 15 classrooms on the second floor (as opposed to 3 floors on the BUSD plans). All the facilities planned for the Stadium/Field House can be accommodated on the first floor of the Old Gym. The planned gymnasium (actually 3 gym spaces) can also be housed within the existing gym structure. A two story high basketball space could be created within the north end of the Old Gym. It would have ground level access from Milvia and have seating for 500+ spectators . The BUSD plans show very limited seating and no public access. There is spectator seating at the existing Donahue gym, but it is located deep into the campus and has very limited restrooms and locker facilities. 


In the recently defeated $22 million pools bond issue (Measure C), almost half was budgeted to create a new warm water pool. The existing warm water pool at the Old Gym is loved by its users. It was recently upgraded by the City. In 2000 we voted to spend $3+ million to improve the pool. This money was not spent. The RIchmond Plunge recently reopened their huge, beautiful, and very "Green" public pool. A total of about $8 million was spent. Why can Richmond act more sensibly than Berkeley? 


If the $210 Million Measure I bond issue fails, I hope that the BUSD would reconsider the decision to throw away a 83,000 square foot building and instead do a "Green" recycling of the Landmarked Old Gym.