West Campus Rehabilitation Plan Presentation Delayed

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday June 12, 2008 - 09:56:00 AM

Plans to rehabilitate the red brick building at the West Campus will be presented to the Berkeley Board of Education on June 18 before this issue comes out, Berkeley Unified School District officials said. 

The district will present the idea to community members at a meeting on Monday. 

A proposal to relocate the district’s administrative staff from the seismically unsafe Old City Hall building at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way to modulars at the former Berkeley Adult School parking lot on University Avenue met with protest from neighbors and local activists at a May 29 meeting. As a result, district Superintendent Bill Huyett asked Berkeley Unified Facilities Director Lew Jones to look at renovating the Bonar Street brick building. 

District officials had earlier planned to report the community’s comments from the meeting to the school board on Wednesday, June 11, and hold another meeting on June 16 to inform people about the board’s decision. 

The board was scheduled to vote on the plan on June 25, but this has now been postponed. 

“When we met with community members in May, it was clear that there was concern about the modular project proposed for the parking lot, and a great deal of support for reusing the existing brick classroom building in a scaled-down plan that would fit the budget,” district spokesperson Mark Coplan said. 

Since then, Huyett and Jones worked with Baker Vilar Architects—the firm hired by the district to design the West Campus project—to review the cost of rehabilitating the building, Coplan said. 

“The architects have come up with a ballpark figure, and the news is good,” he said. “It looks like a project which focuses all resources to the rehabilitation of the building might be possible at a higher cost than the modular option. Nothing has been finalized yet, but the building will have the same stuff that was in the modulars.” 

According to district officials, the cost of rehabilitating the brick building will be around $11 million. The modulars had an $8.5 million price tag. 

“Monday’s meeting will be an opportunity to explain the superintendent’s recommendation to the community,” Coplan said. 

The rehabilitation option will be presented to the board in August, Coplan said, at which point it would decide which option to pursue. 

Some community members have expressed concern that the district is moving too fast on the West Campus project plan. 

Berkeley resident Jennifer Mary Pearson asked in an e-mail to the district: “We are in summer and attendance will be skimpy until after Labor Day. Why the rush?” 

Others have stressed the importance of a public process for the West Campus project, including the application of the city’s zoning ordinance. 


West Campus Community Meeting 

Monday, June 16, 7-8:30 p.m. 

West Campus, 2100 Browning St. 

Boy’s Gym (north end of parking lot) 


For more information on the West Campus plans see www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2008-05-29/article/30124?headline=BUSD-Unveils-West-Campus-Plan-Tonight