Fund provides $87,000 for historic restoration projects in South and West Berkeley

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced last week that it is bestowing a total of $87,000 intended to fund preservation, maintenance and restoration projects for historic properties in South and West Berkeley. The fund is the settlement of a 2010 lawsuit filed against the city.

Nonprofits and public agencies in these areas of the city can apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. The money will be distributed through the Berkeley Preservation Fund.

This one-time allotment is the result of the settlement of a lawsuit between the city and Concerned Library Users, a small group of community members, over the proposed demolition of the South and West branches of the Berkeley Public Library in 2010. The Concerned Library Users opposed the demolition after citing concerns that the language of the measure that funded the renovations did not cover the complete destruction of historic buildings.

In 2011, the group managed to settle with the city, which established the Berkeley Preservation Fund of $100,000, while the renovation of the branches was allowed to continue.

The South and West library branches reopened their doors last May and December, respectively.

“It was an agreed-upon price to eliminate uncertainty with respect to reconstruction of the South and West branch libraries, which the property owners of Berkeley had voted to tax themselves to replace,” said Zach Cowan, the city attorney, in an email.

In order to qualify for these grants, eligible organizations and agencies must be open to the public at least part-time and present a “clear public benefit,” according to the fund website. Historic locations such as Kenney Cottage, a Berkeley landmark on University Avenue, could benefit from the grant funds.

Cowan said he wasn’t sure of any specific locations in Berkeley that would benefit the most from the grant funds and added that such qualifications would be determined in the grant process. Applications for grants from the Berkeley Preservation Fund are due May 15.

Contact Angel Jennings at [email protected].