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Berkeley City Council Delays Pools Measure

By Judith Scherr
Thursday July 17, 2008 - 09:35:00 AM

Following the death Sunday of Councilmember Dona Spring, the warm pool’s most dedicated City Council advocate, pool supporters got some—but not all—of what they had wanted at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

Neither the $15 million bond to replace the warm pool—the old warm pool at Berkeley High is slated for demolition in 2011—nor a $23 million bond to replace the warm pool and refurbish the three outdoor pools will be before the voters in November, as previously discussed. 

Instead, the council voted 7-1 to wait until 2010 to place the warm pool—and perhaps the outdoor pools as well—on the ballot. 

Councilmember Kriss Wor-thington voted in opposition, objecting to the way the task force guiding the project would be selected. 

Just before the meeting was to begin, the council received Bates’ plan: while the bond measure would not be on the ballot until 2010, preliminary work would begin immediately, funded by $300,000 in city money already set aside for the warm pool. 

Bates’ resolution includes assembling an 11-member pools task force to guide work in creating a comprehensive plan that would include refurbishing the three outdoor pools, funding an environmental impact report on a new warm-water pool, likely to be at the school district’s West Campus at Bonar and University avenues, and the use of the YMCA during an interim period when no warm pool would be available. 

“If we put the issue before the voters this November and went through the normal process, it would take us approximately 49 months—it could be cut back maybe a few months,” Bates said. “If we established the committee, and the city paid for the committee’s work in terms of consulting and the wherewithal around the meetings and the notification and then conduced an EIR on the project that was selected, it would end up going to the ballot in June 2010.” 

If it went on the ballot in 2010, he explained the timeline would be approximately the same. “It would take approximately 49 months,” Bates said. 

Warm water pool users said they were concerned about the gap in service between when the pool would be demolished in 2011and when a new one could be built, given that for many of them, the warm water pool is their only source of exercise. 

The YMCA’s pools are not warm enough and hours where the disabled could be served are limited, pool advocates told the council. 

Warm-water-pool advocate, JoAnn Cook, chair of One Warm Pool, told the Planet after the meeting that the collaboration between the school district and council was good, but that it should have begun early enough so that no period of time would occur without a warm water pool. 

The high school is slated to demolish the pool in 2010; the school district plans to float a bond at the same time to build classrooms and a new gymnasium where the pool is now located. 

Councilmember Darryl Moore objected to naming West Campus, in his council district, as the preferred site for the warm-water pool, since there had been no public process to date that included neighborhood input. 

Speaking for outdoor pool users, Rob Collier told the council he supported creating a plan with the broader vision that included addressing issues for both warm and outdoor pools. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington expressed concern about task force membership, as defined in the resolution. He called for appointments to be made under the council’s “Fair Representation Ordinance,” so that councilmembers (and presumably school board members) could each appoint members, rather than having appointments controlled by the mayor and school board president, who, according to Bates’ plan, would also co-chair the committee.  

The draft resolution, approved 7-1 with Worthington voting in opposition, will go to the school board at a special meeting Friday at 4 p.m. in the City Council chambers. 

To get a copy of the resolution, call the city clerk’s office at 981-6900.