In the past month or so, the city has been collecting community input on how to spend $53 million in Measure T1 money to improve Berkeley’s parks, streets and other infrastructure.
That process is winding down, but there are a few more days to comment. Anyone with feedback can email the city with their ideas by the end of the day Tuesday.
Last week, the city held its final large community meeting on the Measure T1, Phase 2, process by asking people about their vision for West Berkeley, including the marina, Aquatic Park and the Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex. There were five large meetings in October. Each of them focused on a different area of the city.
Lots of ideas about Measure T1 spending at the marina
About 70 people attended the Oct. 29 Zoom meeting about West Berkeley, and many of them had ideas for improvements.
There was a vocal pickleball lobby asking for new courts at the waterfront for the sport, which has been described as one of the fastest-growing athletic activities in the nation in recent years. The city opened pickleball courts at Cedar-Rose Park in 2019, but players say there are not enough courts, leading to long wait times, and that nearby neighbors have complained about the noise.
A number of people also asked for better habitat for birds. They included author Mark Rauzon, who described plans to create 8,000 square feet of new bird roosting and nesting habitat on a derelict portion of the old Berkeley pier, which closed in 2015. He said it’s now simply up to the city to review and accept the plans because the work is already done.
Rauzon, who also designed bird platforms on the Bay Bridge, said the plans take sea-level rise into account and would not impact any of the ferry routes under consideration in Berkeley.
Phase 1 of Measure T1 spending included a feasibility study for a Berkeley ferry and new municipal pier. The study will be presented to the community in December and is slated to come before the City Council in February. Three possible ferry routes are under consideration, and the upcoming community process will focus on choosing the best one by the end of 2021, staff said.
Some community members said they hoped T1 money can be used to tackle a portion of the $110 million in unfunded liabilities in the marina, improve the bathrooms, repair dilapidated structures and more.
There was also excitement about plans to pave University Avenue and other streets in the marina. Originally, that work was supposed to happen this year, but COVID-19 derailed those plans. The paving work is now slated to take place in April 2021.
“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful,” parks director Scott Ferris told Berkeleyside on Friday.
Members of the sailing and windsurfing community also weighed in at last week’s meeting about Measure T1 spending at the marina, describing the need for better facilities. Windsurfers, in particular, said the closure of the Hs Lordships parking lot had made it much harder for them to get into the water in the rocky cove where the winds are best.
Overall, the mood of the meeting was enthusiastic, as many community members with a clear passion for the waterfront and Aquatic Park shared their expertise and ideas about how the T1 money might best be spent.
“The Berkeley Marina deserves a ton of attention,” Elise Brewster told staff. “It’s like the centerpiece of all of Berkeley.”
“Do whatever you can to have more people come here,” said Paul Hernandez.
Various city commissions are now meeting to discuss all the community feedback to firm up the list of projects for Measure T1, Phase 2, spending at the marina and elsewhere, which will be finalized Nov. 19.
Staff has come up with a preliminary list, but it will likely shift to some extent in response to commission feedback, Ferris said Friday. The list includes eight or nine restrooms, he said, as well as significant spending in South Berkeley that is currently slated to include a new African American Holistic Resource Center and improvements at the MLK Jr. Youth Services Center and South Berkeley Senior Center.
The current list includes about $2.5 million in spending at the waterfront: to replace dilapidated pilings, replace two docks, renovate the K Dock restroom and build a restroom — at long last — at Cesar Chavez Park.
Measure T1 resources
There are so many resources about Measure T1, it can almost be hard to navigate them. Here are a few.