Many parts of life have seemed to slow down or stop in 2020, but work funded by Measure T1 has continued humming along at numerous parks, street projects and buildings in Berkeley this year.
Voters approved the $100 million Measure T1 bond in November 2016. The first phase of resulting work is set to see infrastructure improvements across 45 projects around the city to the tune of nearly $35 million by the end of the year.
The largest projects in the bunch — representing about $22 million in T1 money — include the North Berkeley Senior Center, which is slated to be complete by early December, Live Oak Park’s community center, University Avenue and other street work in the Berkeley Marina, improvements at Berkeley’s Historic Rose Garden, and the city’s Mental Health Services Center.
Recently, city staff has been dropping into small neighborhood meetings around town to let community members know what’s happening with T1’s first phase and begin to get ideas for upcoming priorities. More formal city meetings about the next phase of spending are slated to happen in October (see p. 21 for those dates) and city commissions will also weigh in on those plans.
One upcoming project that is sure to bring significant local interest is the Berkeley Pier, which the city closed in 2015 because of structural problems. The city is working to reopen the pier and bring ferry service to Berkeley, but progress has been slow. Last year, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which runs large ferries throughout the Bay Area, approved preliminary plans to come to Berkeley. As a result, the city has forged ahead to study what ferry service in Berkeley could eventually look like.
This week, the city’s parks director, Scott Ferris, told a small group of neighbors from the Live Oak Codornices Creek Neighborhood Association a bit more about those plans. WETA gave the city $250,000 to look at possible operations out of Berkeley for a small ferry, a large ferry and a hydroplane ferry.
The results of that study, along with conceptual designs for a fishing and ferry pier, are slated to be presented publicly in December and January, Ferris said. The current timeline has council providing direction about ferry plans in March 2021. T1’s Phase 1 list included about $245,000 for a planning process around the pier in addition to the WETA money.
“We hear about the Berkeley Pier in almost every meeting,” Ferris told neighbors this week.
Large projects underway
The North Berkeley Senior Center has been closed since early 2019 for extensive work including roof repairs, foundation upgrades, improvements related to the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, new flooring, seismic work and more. The T1 budget for those renovations is about $8.4 million.
The city has also been working on Live Oak Park’s community center, which has a T1 budget of about $6.1 million. That project, which is set to be finished in November, includes a seismic retrofit, maintenance upgrades and other improvements.
Work at the rose garden includes new pathways, tennis courts and pergola repairs. T1 is paying for about $2.7 million of that work.
The city is also working on major improvements to University Avenue and surrounding streets in the Berkeley Marina. It’s an $8 million project with nearly half of that money coming from T1. The city plans to improve the bumpy stretch of University leading to the marina by shifting the east- and westbound lanes to the north (see p. 15 for some of the designs). A new green space is planned south of those lanes, and much of the median will be removed. A roundabout is planned for the west end of University.
Other big streetscape improvements funded by T1 include the recent overhaul of Adeline Street from Ashby Avenue up to Shattuck Avenue. Adeline now features new bike and parking lanes as well as improved sidewalks and ADA ramps.
Monterey Avenue and Ward Street repairs are also on the Phase 1 list. A “complete streets” project at Hearst Avenue is already done. T1 work on all four of those streets tallies about $5.4 million in improvements.
Completed parks projects include turf replacement at the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex, a complete replacement of the city’s ancient irrigation system, which staff says will allow the city to conserve water and save money, and playground renovations at George Florence Mini Park at 2121 10th St.
Playground renovations are currently underway at Strawberry Creek and San Pablo parks. San Pablo Park is also getting new tennis courts.
The tide tubes at Aquatic Park are also set to be inspected and repaired as part of the first phase of T1.