Albany Briefs By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday August 12, 2005

St. Mary’s gets reprieve 

One month after voting to prohibit St. Mary’s High School from using a disputed portion of its campus, the council reversed course this week, calling for school officials and neighborhood leaders to once again try to find a solution to the local turf battle. 

“There has to be a better solution than the one we’ve come up with here,” said Councilmember Jewel Okawachi. 

Albany has limited St. Mary’s size to no more than 90,675 square feet. Five years ago the school built a new hall with the understanding that it would then demolish 2,380 square feet of space, consisting of a band pavilion, snack bar and classrooms. 

But the school never demolished the buildings and last month, the council voted to prevent Saint Mary’s from using the space until the school presented a master plan for the entire campus. 

Saint Mary’s provided new information in recent weeks demonstrating that the closure would hurt students and leave the school with no soundproof building for band rehearsals. The school’s arguments swayed the council.  

“I don’t want to do something where everybody loses and I see that being the case right now by closing the band pavilion,” Councilmember Farid Javandel said. 

After further meetings this month between the school and the Peralta Park Neighborhood Association, the council will hold a new public hearing on Saint Mary’s in September. 


Albany tax measure heading for June ballot 

The Albany City Council approved putting a $145-per-residential unit parcel tax on the June 2006 ballot. 

The tax is anticipated to raise $1 million a year for capital projects like renovating the city’s veterans’ building as well as for youth programs, street maintenance, library services and park maintenance. 

Several councilmembers ex-pressed a preference for putting the initiative on the ballot this November. But at the urging of Mayor Robert Good, a council majority opted for the June ballot so that it wouldn’t risk taking votes away from a tax hike proposal that Albany’s Board of Education is placing on the November ballot.?