Board Considers Open Derby Street Plan, By: Suzanne LaBarre

Tuesday March 14, 2006

The Berkeley Board of Education will consider funneling $800,000 into developing an open East Campus/ Derby Street field tomorrow. 

The funding would cover the cost of turning the district-run vacant site into an interim athletics field while the board considers building a more permanent standard baseball diamond there.  

The East Campus field, hemmed in by Ward and Carleton streets, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Milvia Street, has long been a bone of contention for the Berkeley Unified School District. 

Some say it should be converted into a baseball field to meet the needs of the Berkeley High School men’s baseball team, which currently practices at San Pablo Park, a driving distance from campus. To make the diamond regulation size, the Berkeley City Council would have to grant the district permission to close Derby Street between MLK and Milvia. The Berkeley Farmer’s Market is held there. 

Others say Derby Street should stay open and the site should host a multi-use playing field.  

The $800,000 board directors will consider allocating tomorrow would fund basic demolition and development of an open field, including the cost of removing electric transformers and parking areas, fixing drainage problems, re-irrigating the site, planting grass and installing a fence.  

The approval of funding would not preclude the board from deciding to build a baseball diamond at a later date. The board still plans to move forward analyzing the environmental impacts of closing Derby Street.