Berkeley’s new Parks and Waterfront Commission invites the public to three Wednesday night meetings in October to discuss ideas for improvements to the City’s parks, pools, community centers, marina, and camps.
The first meeting will be held on Wednesday October 2 at James Kenney Community Center, 1720 Eighth Street (between Virginia and Delaware) from 7 to 9 pm. Childcare will be provided.
Although people may attend any of the three meetings, the focus of each will be on areas of the City defined by the Council Districts. The City maintains over fifty parks, pools, and playgrounds. The first meeting will emphasize parks and facilities in Districts 1, 2, and 4, which include two large open spaces: Chavez Park, formerly known as North Waterfront Park, and Aquatic Park in West Berkeley.
Civic Center Park, Ohlone, Strawberry Creek, Cedar-Rose, and the West Campus Swim Center are among the other major municipal properties that will be discussed. For a complete list, see below.
The meetings will include reports from staff, but most of the time will be devoted to public input. The Commission’s Chair, Jim McGrath, calls these meetings “listening sessions.” Berkeley’s open space and recreational facilities are popular, the competition for use can be intense, and wear and tear has taken its toll. To make matters worse, The Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront division is running on a structural deficit of approximately $700,000 annually despite the reauthorization of the parks tax every four years by Berkeley voters. The parks tax has a built in CPI (consumer price index) increase, but the raise doesn’t meet the increased real operating costs.
Maintenance staff has been cut from 186 to 155 positions over the last decade, and there is a backlog of repair and renovation projects totalling nearly $40 million. The hydraulic infrastructure of Aquatic Park, built in the 1930’s, needs a major over haul, including the essential central tide tubes , which are corroding on the bay side, and the west side,which could be made more inviting.
Heavily used Chavez Park at the Marina, has been improved at a bare minimum since the site, a former landfill, was sealed in 1991. Although the clay cap and the methane collection and incineration system present some constraints, the landscape could be beautified through strategic planting and vegetation management.
Two attempts, in 2010 and 2012, to fund pool improvements through bonds, including the construction of a warm pool at the West Campus, narrowly failed to get the necessary 67% of the votes cast. After the last election, Willard Pool was closed, a heart-breaking loss for the users. Robert Collier, the co-chair of both pool campaigns, feels that “a future ballot measure for parks and pools definitely can win, but if and only if it is carefully targeted on preservation of existing facilities, giving people maximum bang for their buck.”
The Commission will consider all suggestions including establishing priorities, closing facilities, expanding volunteer efforts, charging higher user fees, finding new sources of funds, increasing the parks tax, closing facilities, and other options.
The second meeting will be held Wednesday October 9: Live Oak Community Center, Fireside Room, 1301 Shattuck Ave. from 7pm to 9pm. The focus of the meeting will be on parks and facilities in North Berkeley (Districts 5 & 6) including King Swim Center, Live Oak, John Hinkel, Indian Rock, Great Stoneface, Codornices, Dorothy Bolte, Terrace View, Grizzly Peak and, Thousand Oaks Schools Parks, the residential camps and others. The agenda will include a discussion of the potential for rebuilding Tuolumne Camp, which was mostly destroyed by fire in August.
The final meeting in this series will be on Wednesday October 16: South Berkeley Branch Library,1901 Russell at ML King Way from 6pm to 7:30pm. The focus of the meeting will be on parks and facilities in South Berkeley (Districts 3, 7, & 8) including Willard Park and Willard Swim Center, Oak Park, Monkey Island, Greg Brown, Grove, Bateman Mall, Halcyon Commons, and the LeConte, Malcolm X, and John Muir Schools Parks.
Please come to one of the following Wednesday community meetings and share your ideas about the future of the City’s parks and facilities. Childcare will be provided at all three meetings.
Community members who are unable to attend the public meetings may submit written comments by October 30, 2013 to Roger Miller, Secretary, Parks and Waterfront Commission, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the City’s system of parks and facilities is available at http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/PRW.
Toni Mester is a resident of West Berkeley
Parks in West Berkeley
| Berkeley Way Mini-Park |
| Berkeley Way & West St. |
| Cedar-Rose Park |
| 1300 Rose St. |
| Cesar E. Chavez Park |
| Spinnaker Way at Turnaround |
| Harrison Skate Park |
| Harrison & Third |
| Horseshoe Park |
| Seawall Drive, Marina |
| James Kenney Park |
| Eight St. btwn Delaware & Virginia St. |
| Ohlone Park West |
| Hearst Ave. from Milvia to Sacramento St. |
| Virginia-McGee Totland |
| Virginia St. near McGee Ave. |
| West Campus Swim Center |
| University Ave. at Curtis St. |
| Adventure Playground |
| 162 University Ave., Berkeley Marina |
| Aquatic Park |
| Bolivar Drive, foot of Bancroft Way |
| Charlie Dorr Mini-Park |
| 2200 Block of Acton St. |
| George Florence Mini-Park |
| Tenth St. btwn Allston Way & Addison St, |
| Haskel-Mabel Mini Park |
| Haskell & Mabel Streets |
| Rosa Parks School Park |
| 2240 9th Street |
| San Pablo Park |
| 2800 Park St btwn Russell & Ward St. |
| Shorebird Park |
| University Ave. & Seawall Dr. |
| Strawberry Creek Park |
| Btwn Bancroft Way & Addison Street at West Street |
| Becky Temko Tot Park |
| 2424 Roosevelt St. |
| Marina Mall |
| 201 University Ave. |
| MLK Civic Center Park |
| Martin Luther King Jr. Way btwn Allston Way & Cent |
| Ohlone Park East |
| Hearst Ave. from Milvia to Sacramento St. |
| Old City Hall/Maudelle Shirek Park |
| 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way |
| Presentation Park |
| Allston Way at California |
| Washington School Park |
| Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Bancroft |