Public Comment

Citywide Pools Task Force and Aquatics for All

By Bill Hamilton and James Cisney
Thursday October 16, 2008 - 10:02:00 AM

Berkeley residents who are interested in swimming and who care about public recreation for youth have something to cheer about. City of Berkeley staff, Berkeley Unified School District, PTA representatives, neighborhood pool representatives, Park and Recreation and Disability Commissioners, and representatives of the warm pool are sitting down together as a citywide Pools Task Force. 

The Pools Task Force is charged with coming up with a pools master plan. Their intent is to consider the needs and desires of the residents of Berkeley for new or enhanced facilities. The proposed outcome of their discussions and meetings is to develop a bond measure for the June 2010 election. The potential for improving aquatic service in Berkeley for the next several decades is great. The efforts of the warm pool users to find a new home for their pool and the need to remodel, reconfigure, or replace the current outdated, and limited, neighborhood pools has created an opportunity to rethink public swimming in Berkeley. 

Berkeley Aquatics for All (BAA) is a group of swimmers and parents who think it is time to bring all season swimming and recreation to underserved populations, especially children and families, and all Berkeley residents. One of our ideas is to build an indoor multi-pool Aquatic Complex in a location accessible and attractive to everyone. 

Our concept for an aquatic complex in Berkeley would include an indoor facility that would house a warm pool, an indoor children’s recreation pool with water features, and an indoor or outdoor lap/competition pool. Looking to save in operating costs and to keep Berkeley in the forefront of environmental leadership the facility would be built with the latest, most efficient and sustainable technologies available. 

The aquatic complex model has been tried with stunning success in many suburban and urban communities. One such local example is the Silliman Aquatic Center in Newark, California. The popularity of this aquatic center has enabled the City of Newark to recover most of the operating costs for this facility. The Silliman Center also serves as a community center offering meeting rooms for groups and parties. We think these elements, and possibly others, could be incorporated into an aquatic center in Berkeley. 

The Pools Task Force will have several community meetings where the public is invited to express their ideas and needs. We believe that it is extremely important that all residents who are interested in aquatics, health, recreation, and community building come together to develop the best Master Pool Plan possible to put before the voters and taxpayers in 2010. We especially encourage families from underserved communities in Berkeley to become a part of this process. Together all of us can build an exciting new future for aquatics, and more, for the City of Berkeley. 



Wednesday, Oct. 22, 7-9 p.m. 

Live Oak Recreation Center, Crafts Room, 1301 Shattuck Ave. 

Topics: Existing Conditions and Community Needs. 

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7-9 p.m. 

Longfellow Middle School, Library,  

1500 Derby St. 

Topics: Site Plan Concepts and Preferred Alternative. 

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, 7-9 p.m. 

James Kenney Community Center,  

Community Room, 1720 8th St. 

Topic: Draft Citywide Pools Master Plan. 

Bill Hamilton, James Cisney and members of BAA