The Berkeley City Council Tuesday bade farewell to the city’s Deputy Director Lisa Caronna who will be retiring this week.
Perhaps best known for her role in the citywide pools project, which is headed to the ballot in June, Caronna was praised by the council for being an outstanding “public servant.”
The Berkeley City Council formally approved the decision to place the $22.6 million pools ballot measure—which will upgrade and expand the city’s existing public pools and build a new warm water pool—in the June 8 election at Tuesday’s meeting.
Caronna joined the City of Berkeley in 1995 as a landscape architect in the Public Works Department and was named director of the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department in 1997.
She became Deputy City Manager in Nov. 2003 and worked on the pools master plan, the rebuilding of the Marina docks, the planning of the East Touchdown Plaza at Aquatic Park and the development of the off-leash dog area in Cesar Chavez Park, which generated some controversy.
Before beginning her career with the city, Caronna worked for 20 years at the landscape architecture firm she co-founded.
“Her tenure is marked by passion, humor and style,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, reading aloud from the proclamation the city awarded Caronna.
Some councilmembers recalled Caronna’s ability to hone new talent, calling Rent Stabilization Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian and Budget Manager Tracy Vesely part of the “Caronna mafia,” who transformed the way the Berkeley City Hall worked in many ways.
“You have put a human face to the unpleasant chores of the city,” said Councilmember Max Anderson.
Bates said he was going to miss Caronna’s “speedwalking” through the City Hall corridors.
“I came to Berkeley when I was 19, and like many people who come here for school, I never looked back,” Caronna said during her thank you speech. “It’s been a big wild adventure. It’s been incredible working with Phil [City Manager Phil Kamlarz] who is a really funny guy. Not a single day has gone by without us laughing,” even during these hard times.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington called Caronna’s decision to step down “the saddest retirement of the decade.”
“Lisa has helped me with so many little things—the city has assigned her to so many complicated things, Lisa I will deeply miss you,” he said.