Warm Water Pool Funding Back Before Councilmembers

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Warm-pool users met over the weekend to organize themselves to converge on today’s (Tuesday) City Council meeting to support Dona Spring’s proposal to put a measure on the November ballot to fund the pool used mostly by disabled and elderly people.  

“We’re going to keep up the pressure,” said Daniel Rudman, a regular pool user who attended the meeting. “There’s a lot of good energy.” 

While the council passed, in concept, the placement of a bond measure on the November ballot to complete financing a new warm pool, that decision appears problematic, according to City Manager Phil Kamlarz, interviewed by phone on Monday. 

The city cannot ask voters to complete funding for the pool because there have been changes in the project, Kamlarz said, explaining: “We need a whole new bond issue.”  

In 2000, voters approved funding to rehab the warm pool, located in the Berkeley High School gym. But the school district has since made tentative plans to demolish the pool and the building that houses it and rebuild on the site. There are also tentative plans to allow the city to construct a new warm pool and lockers on a site across Milvia Street from the current warm pool. 

The plans will not be approved by the school board until the environmental impact report, now in progress, is complete, according to School Board Member John Selawsky. 

That makes it difficult to ask voters to approve a bond for the project, Kamlarz said, noting, moreover, that the cost of the new project is in question. It’s estimated at $8 million but “that’s a rough estimate,” Kamlarz said. 

“We need a real estimate of costs. We need to do it right,” he added. There is not enough information to put the measure on the November ballot, he said. 

At last week’s council meeting, Kamlarz suggested that the council explore putting a bond measure on a special election ballot, which could be conducted by mail at a later date. But on Monday he said he subsequently learned that it may not be legal to hold a special election for a bond measure. He said he would know more about this by tonight’s council meeting.  

Another possibility is using certificates of participation (COPs) to fund the pool—that is borrowing the funds which the city would pay back. The problem is that the city would have to own the property to issue COPs and that presents even more complexities, said School Board Member John Selawsky. The school board has not discussed the sale or a gift of the tentative pool site to the city, Selawsky said.