The Berkeley Unified School District should examine an alternative option for the East Campus playing fields project.
That’s the recommendation district staff will make to the school board during tonight’s meeting.
The newest option emerged in March, when a group of residents who support constructing a regulation-size baseball field at the site began looking for ways to achieve that goal without forcing the Berkeley Farmers’ Market to make a permanent move.
In January 1999, the city and school district began the environmental review process on the project at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Derby Street, where the BUSD’s East Campus – renamed Berkeley Alternative High School – is located.
Two options came out of that process. One called for the closure of Derby and the construction of a regulation-size baseball field, which could double as a soccer field. The other option would leave the street open, and only a softball field would be built. That ground also could be used for soccer.
Supporters of the Berkeley High athletic program pushed for the first option because the baseball team currently uses the inadequate facilities at San Pablo Park. But many neighbors and customers of the Tuesday farmers’ market advocated the second option. Neighbors said the first option would create traffic and parking problems on their streets, and market customers said there was no viable place to move the market.
The option being presented to the board tonight seeks to provide a compromise: close Derby but create space for the Berkeley Farmers’ Market to remain at the site. The school board is being asked to front $65,000 for the study of that third option. The city has made most of the environmental review costs so far, states the report being presented to the board.
Funding for the actual project remains an outstanding issue. The BUSD, which is facing tight finances in its upcoming budget, likely will seek a bond or parcel tax in November to pay for the East Campus project, as well as other work around the district.
The school board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in Board/Council Chambers in Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
The meeting is scheduled to be broadcast on 89.3-FM, KPFB, and Cable Channel 25, B-TV.
Before tonight’s meeting, a group of parents is scheduled to rally outside Old City Hall calling on the district to raise teachers’ salaries.