Public Comment

Commentary:The Full Story on Derby Field Discussions

By Mark Coplan
Tuesday December 05, 2006

It is my opinion that one of the most effective ways to get the word out in Berkeley is through the letters section of our local papers. I know that it’s the first place I look after I’ve read the front page, so I am asking for your assistance in getting the word out for this important event. This is a citywide issue, and we encourage everyone’s participation. 

The first of two community meetings to discuss the options for the Derby Street Athletic Field has been scheduled for Thursday, December 7, 7 p.m.–9 p.m. at the Berkeley Technical Academy (formerly Berkeley Alternative High School), 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The tentative date for the second meeting (January 11th) will be decided at the first meeting. 

The origin of these meetings 

When the Board of Education asked the City of Berkeley to assist in paying for the environmental impact report that had been requested for the Closed Derby Option, the COB asked the board to schedule community meetings first, so that neighbors and other interested groups or individuals would have the opportunity to include their input for the record. To date all of the comments to the board regarding the Closed Derby Option have been delivered during Public Comment at school board meetings. Because we now have the Curvy Derby Plan that to date has only been shared at one of the quarterly 2x2 meetings attended by two representatives from the City Council and from the Board of Education, it only makes sense to solicit feedback on that as well, but that can only take place after the community has finished making their comments regarding the Closed Derby Option, as the board has committed to meeting the COB’s request for that process, and asked staff to schedule these meetings. 

The last action by the board was to pursue the Closed Derby Option, so that is the only direction to staff. For the Curvy Derby Option to formally enter the picture, it has to come before the board for their consideration. If the meetings allow time for the community to include their input on this option, then that can also be included in the report that goes to the board. The third option still has to go before the board if it is to become a part of their discussion. 

Here are some good follow up questions we have received and want to share: 


Derby Field Community Meetings  

follow-up questions 


• Who is presenting each of the plans? 

BUSD Director of Facilities and Maintenance Lew Jones will give an overview of the two conceptual plans that the board has already seen, the Open Derby Plan and the Closed Derby Plan. Derby neighbors Susi Marzuola and Peter Waller have developed a third option called Curvy Derby, and Suzi will give an overview of that plan. 

• How long do they have to present? 

Each plan will have five minutes. The City Council and Board of Education called for these meetings to give the community the opportunity to give formal input on the Closed Derby Street plan, which is the plan that the board has conceptually approved, before we proceed together with the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Closed Derby plan. It is our hope that we will be able to receive everyone’s comments and any written material people wish to give to the board early enough in the two meetings to allow a more in-depth presentation of the Curvy Derby plan in the second meeting, as well as discussion and comments. If the public comments regarding the Closed Derby Street plan take all of the time we have, then we will have to schedule another opportunity for everyone to get together to discuss the alternative plan offered by the neighbors. We have to remember that the Curvy Derby plan has never been formally presented to the board, and for staff to move beyond these two meetings we will have to have it directed by the board. In the event that we have sufficient time to explore the possibility of everyone coming together before the board in support of the new option in these meetings, then that can be included in the report from these meetings. 

• How are the plans being presented?  

Just plans on boards or will there be a PowerPoint presentation or some other format? The plans should be presented with the display boards already created. The second presentation on the Curvy Derby plan could be a PowerPoint presentation, and while we know that city staff will be limited in what they can tell us about the effect of this plan from their perspective at this early stage, we are hoping that they will be able to give some general idea of what we might be able to expect if this plan were to move forward. 

• Who is running the public comment process and preparing and distributing minutes? 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan will be facilitating the meeting, and we have asked Max Anderson to assist with that. We will have someone scribing the comments and taping to be sure they get it exactly. We will distribute the notes prior to the second meeting to give people a chance to doublecheck their comments. We will take revisions at the second meeting, before the script goes to the board. 

• What are the goals and desired outcomes for these meetings?  

The purpose of these meetings as directed by the board is to formally receive community input on the Closed Derby Street plan, which the board approved conceptually last year. It is clear that many in the community want to begin discussion of the Curvy Derby plan, and staff is hopeful that there will be time for us to move on to that discussion. As this is an opportunity for community input, that really is a process of the community from both sides of the discussion (Open Derby/Closed Derby), meeting to see if they can come together with an alternative to present to the board. The board will be given all of the information collected, and if they decide to change their current direction it would require board action at a scheduled board meeting. 

• Will this process allow for the possibility of changing the EIR preferred plan to one of the open street plans?  

The only way that this could change is if the Curvy Derby plan goes before the board and is conceptually approved, taking the current Closed Derby plan off of the table. 




Mark Coplan is the Berkeley Unified School District’s public information officer.