Live Oak Park will get a quake-resistant facelift

By Matt Liebowitz, Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday June 29, 2002

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a $552,000 facelift for Berkeley’s Live Oak Park and Recreation Center. 

The state-funded project is slated to begin construciton Aug. 28. Project designs began a year ago. 

The heavily-used north Berkeley park and recreation center were recently determined as not safe during an earthquake. The primary goal of the rebuilding venture is to provide a “seismic structural upgrade” that will improve safety for the community, said Lisa Caronna, director of Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront. 

“It’s deteriorated over the years due to deferred maintenance” Caronna said. “Our goal, first and foremost is to improve seismic safety,” she said, adding, “The park is desperately in need of a make-over.” 

Live Oak Park opened in 1916, and the Recreation Center in 1956. The park and Recreation center covers 5.5 acres off Shattuck Avenue and Berryman Street, and has a 200-capactiy social hall, two basketball courts, and lighted tennis and volleyball courts as well. It is one of three recreation centers in Berkeley, along with Frances Albrier Community Center and James Keeney Recreation Center. 

Dan Belson, associate civil engineer for the City of Berkeley is the project manager for the rebuilding project, officially called a “seismic retrofit.” 

“When dealing with an existing facility,” Belson said, “the first goal is to do work with the least amount of destruction to the building.” 

Belson outlined the architectural plans for the project, which involves modifying the existing walls, not tearing them down, to provide enough resistance for an earthquake. “We will strengthen the walls to act as one,” Belson said.  

Belson specified three rooms of the recreation center – the Fireside room, Activity room, and Game room – as areas in which windows will be replaced by walls to be tied into the foundation, the existing walls, and the roof to provide more strength. 

“We use the 1906 earthquake as a model to determine the maximum probable force a building can withstand,” Belson said. He explained that seismic upgrade projects such as this one build around that model. 

Though earthquake-proofing is at the top of the construction agenda, the rebuilding will also improve handicapped accessibility to the recreation center on the Shattuck Avenue side. It will open a skylight in the corridor, improve the mechanical and electrical systems and provide internal repairs. Included in the plan are a more usable kitchen and basic renovations such as painting.  

Belson said the project will take six months to complete. An expansion is not part of the rebuilding project. 

Live Oak Park and Recreation Center houses a variety of year-round programs, everything from after-school programs and a Teen Club, to puppy training, swing dancing and Japanese Taiko drumming. It can also be reserved and rented out for special events. 

“It is great for North Berkeley to have this,” said Caronna. After the rebuilding, Caronna is confident about Live Oak’s role in Berkeley. 

“It will be a much more welcoming environment for the community,” she said. 

The contract has been awarded to Angotti and Reilly of San Francisco. The money for the project is coming from Prop. 12, a bond measure passed at the state level that granted $500,000 for the project. Funding also came from the city’s Capital Improvement Program, which pitched in $200,000.  

The Angotti and Reilly bid will leave the city with apprxoiamtely $148,000 left over from the original grant, approved by voters in 2000.