Public Comment

Dona's Last Wish: Save the Warm Pool in Berkeley

By Lori Kossowsky
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 03:19:00 PM

When Dona Spring died almost three years ago she was fighting to make sure the warm pool would continue and that a bond that would most likely pass would be on the ballot. Dona, who was severely disabled for quite some time, knew how the warm pool was a life line and in many cases a life and death resource for many of its users. Her last words before she died to Vice Mayor Linda Maio, were about the continuation of the warm pool. 

After she died all priorities for the warm pool died with her. She would have been infuriated that the warm pool bond was not put on the 2008 ballot, nor was an advisory bond placed on the ballot. 

The city council appropriated $500,000 from money set aside for the warm pool to hire consultants to draw up a master plan for all the Berkeley Pools. However, there was A problem. They knew nothing about warm pools. A task force was chosen by the city council, I believe, to work on the Berkeley Pools. This was something Dona had asked the council NOT to do. I clearly remember her saying please don't make our disabled community jump through more hoops and barriers. And in her raspy voice she would say "We want a warm pool, and we want one NOW." 

There is an item on the city council agenda [for next week] and people should write the city clerk, and ALL council members to let them know the following: vote "yes" on both pools-related items (46b6 and 46d). Support a motion to amend 46b6 to remove the possibility of those two projects being done by in-house staff or by consultants without the specified qualifications. This is crucial because information from reliable sources says that if these items don't pass the the warm pool will be gone forever as they have no intention of placing the Warm Pool on the November 2012 ballot. We cannot let this happen. 

The Mayor had asked the warm pool disabled people not to attend city council meetings unless we had something new to add. 

At this time, Dona was fighting for life and in the hospital and had not been able to participate in meetings for perhaps a month. I reminded him that he was very close to violating our ADA rights, in a letter I sent him. He replied " What I meant was that there was 4 weeks of public comment on this issue, and it may not be necessary to repeat it again. However, please come to Council meeting, and if you feel that there has been a point that hasn't been already addressed, don't hesitate to put your name down to comment at the meeting." 

We were just notified that we needed to tell the city council AGAIN, why the Y was inadequate for the warm pool population. Two years previously the Y's CEO came and made a pitch for the YMCA in downtown Berkeley. It was clear from his words, he had absolutely no idea who used the warm pool. He boasted of the weight room, saunas, and other health gym equipment, while we looked at each other with a combination of amazement and horror. RIght. We were going to wheel ourselves in our wheel chairs and lift weights, dive into the pool and then go for a health sauna. We tried to explain why this was not feasible. I remember speaking in front of the city council that night letting them know we needed a deep pool with temperatures 93 degrees. The Y has no such pool or plans for one. 

Ar the last city council meeting Mayor Bates made a similar request of the warm pool people, as I believe he is tired of hearing from us. One way not to hear from us is to make sure there IS NO WARM POOL IN OUR FUTURE!!! Please remember Dona, and her last wish for our one warm pool and write, call, all council representatives including the city clerk as quickly as possible to save our pool. 

* Received from the Mayor the Monday after Dona passed away.