Around 40 concerned community members crowded into the West Campus Gym Tuesday night to discuss potential problems that the neighborhood could face with the ongoing renovation projects in West Berkeley.
At the West Campus, a 7.3-acre area along University Avenue, plans are underway to renovate its buildings and move the Berkeley Unified School District’s administrative offices, create classrooms for the district’s charter school and possibly move Berkeley City Council chambers there. The issues discussed at Tuesday night’s community meeting included a lack of parking spaces, increased traffic during the beginning and end of school days and noise concerns because of having more students in the area.
Community members were also concerned with the potential project to renovate the West Campus cafeteria which could be used for future City Council meetings. Neighbors said they fear that holding the council meetings at West Campus would increase the number of cars parked in residential neighborhoods and cause noise disruptions late into the night.
“There has not been adequate consideration to the influx of automobile traffic and to parking access both in daytime and night time use,” said Berkeley resident Paul Worthman, who was present at the meeting. “Traffic and the parking problems will, if not confronted, have a serious negative impact on the neighborhood.”
Councilmember Darryl Moore said at the meeting Tuesday that the City Council has not yet officially discussed moving the site for their meetings, but will take into consideration the concerns of the public.
If approved by the school board, the renovation of the cafeteria is scheduled to begin in early 2012.
Another renovation project discussed at the meeting was the ongoing renovation of classroom building C which will house the district’s central office administration at the West Campus site — a project that began in May 2010 that is set to be completed by the end of this year.
The last project presented was the renovation of existing school buildings at the West campus to be used to house up to 400 students from the Revolutionary Education and Learning Movement school, the district’s charter school.
This project is still in the schematic design process which lays out the specifics such as electrical work, but is slated to begin in March 2013, according to the district’s website.
Despite community member concerns, district Superintendent Bill Huyett said he was very pleased by the promise of these renovation projects.
“There is an intention by the school district to renovate this site and make sure that it has functionality which serves the mission to be as good neighbors we can be,” Huyett said. “I’m very excited about this project.”