Council Puts Pool on Hold By Judith Scherr

Friday March 24, 2006

On the agenda at Tuesday’s City Council meeting was a motion to ask the Berkeley School Board to add partial funding for a new warm pool at Berkeley High to the list of projects to be supported by the voters in a November parcel tax ballot measure. At the meeting, however, councilmembers argued that the addition could endanger the passage of the tax. 

The warm pool is used by frail elderly and disabled persons. Funding was authorized under Measure R in 2000 to rehabilitate the pool and the structure that houses it. However, the School Board subsequently decided not to rehabilitate the pool but to move it to the east side of Milvia Street, where tennis courts were once housed. That would cost at least $2 million, more than funds provided by the city and the bond measure. 

Councilmembers decided by a unanimous vote that, instead of asking the School Board to add the funding to the parcel tax, they would ask the city manager to write to the school superintendent, asking if other sources of revenue are available and to discuss the issue further in the “two-by-two” committee, comprised of school board and council members. 

Without it, “people who depend on the pool will be left high and dry,” quipped Councilmember Dona Spring, who has been driving the effort to make sure the new warm pool gets funded. 


Wind turbine 

The proposed installation of a small, experimental electricity-generating wind turbine at the Shorebird Park education center at the Marina drew fire from Councilmember Betty Olds who questioned whether the 40-foot structure would endanger birds, which has been the case at the much-larger, much-higher Altamont Pass wind farm.  

“We’re setting an example,” Olds said. “Maybe people will have them in their yards.” 

The council decided to pass the measure (with Councilmember Gordon Wozniak abstaining and Councilmember Kriss Worthington absent), accepting the installation of the turbine, with the caveat that the Golden Gate Audubon Society would have to give its approval. If the GGAS does not, the issue will be back on the council agenda.  

Funding for the project will come from the developer, but the city is responsible for $12,000 in installation costs. 

And, the council unanimously passed: 

• Funding for the youth shelter through May. 

• The phasing out of tritium exit signs. 

• Changing the name of the Sather Gate Garage to the Telegraph/Channing Garage to give shoppers a better idea of where to find parking. 

While it was not on the council agenda, Berkeley High’s baseball team showed up en masse at the public comment period to ask the council to consider allowing the school to site a regulation-size baseball field on the parcel at Derby Street and Martin Luther King Way. The school board recently approved play fields at the site, but a regulation-size field would entail closing a section of Derby Street, which many neighbors and the Tuesday farmers market vendors oppose..