Additional Longfellow Cafeteria Project Community Meeting – June 10, 2013
See video of Board Action at BUSD Board Meeting June 26, 2013 Longfellow Cafeteria Project
There was an additional strategy meeting at Longfellow on June 24th to discuss plans for the relocation of the garden onto the school site (as noted in an invitation letter to the community from Co-Superintendent Javetta Cleveland). As a result of that meeting, the Principal is forming a committee to review the options for relocating the garden, and they will work with the principal and the architects to make recommendations. This work will begin when the school population returns in the fall. The plan is to create the new garden spaces before the demolition begins on the Ward Street site to insure that the garden is available to the students without a gap.
BUSD Board Approves Longfellow Cafeteria Project at June 26th Meeting
At the BUSD School Board Meeting June 26, 2013, after listening to public comments and a lengthy Board discussion, the Board unanimously approved moving forward with the Longfellow Cafeteria Project.
BUSD Board Document:
DATE: June 26, 2013
SUBJECT: Approval of the Schematic Design of the Longfellow Café Project
In 2009, as a part of the 2010 Bond planning, a review of all BUSD cafeterias was conducted. Longfellow’s cafeteria is in the basement of the old building and is not a conducive space for dining. In addition, the cooking class, located across Ward Street from the main campus, was not built for that purpose and needs significant improvement to function. The area across Ward Street also houses the main Longfellow garden. In the 2010 bond planning, there was a clear consensus to build a new cafeteria for Longfellow. After reviewing the overall site, the area across Ward was chosen as the Longfellow campus is so small and crowded and portions of the Ward Street site were underutilized.
On January 9, 2013, the Board approved a project to build a cafeteria at Longfellow. The cafeteria plan includes a culinary classroom, some space for outdoor eating and a small garden. The architectural firm of HKIT Architects will present the design. The Board has requested that this cover memo explain the process, the types of participants, any concerns, and include the budget and a plan.
The Site Committee was proposed by the Principal and reviewed by Cabinet in early 2013. It included the Principal, two classified staff, the Food Service Director, three teachers, two parents, one student and two community members. There was a kick-off meeting, six Site Committee Meetings and two Community meetings (one added during the project). The architect developed several possible alternatives for fitting the café, culinary classroom and a small garden on the Ward Street site.
There is a plan to include gardens on the main campus as well. There were three concerns raised in the meetings: public notification; the long term viability of the garden; and the safety of street crossing. In response to these concerns a second Community Meeting was held. Below we discuss each of the three concerns.
The District followed its recently revised public notification process. The entire schematic design schedule was developed early in the project, was reviewed by the Superintendent’s Cabinet and was posted for information in early March. The Community Meeting was advertised in the Berkeley Times and the surrounding area was leafleted two weeks before the Community Meeting. Despite these notifications, many concerned citizens were unaware of the project and the design 5.1-A choices made, and some felt that they did not have the proper opportunity to either know about the project or influence the outcome. The current notification process missed some important constituents and will need to be refined in the future. Ideas that may be considered to improve the current process are: earlier or possibly yearly information about proposed projects for each site; a meeting held prior to the design process starting; and more refined posting or mailing. Other ideas may be explored before a final recommendation. The public is encouraged to contact the Superintendent’s Office on ways to improve our public notification.
A second concern raised was the long term viability of the garden program. Currently, the gardening and cooking program is under financial stress as the Federal government is defunding the program. BUSD is committed to the program, although it will be at a reduced level. The proposed café plan, relocates much of the garden to the main campus. Some in the community felt the plan was neither well thought out nor sufficiently developed to proceed with the cafeteria plan. Partially due to the way the building plan was presented, it appeared to some that the garden was an after-thought and not a prime component of the plan. It is not uncommon in the architectural world that a schematic plan would identify locations but not have a more developed landscape plan. The detailed planning is often done in the Design Development and Construction Document phases after the schematic design is approved. Many in the community felt that we did not show support for the program. The District is committed to a vibrant garden program. The exact location and configuration needs further discussion. In response to this concern, staff called a meeting to discuss the garden program on June 24th.
That meeting is being held after this document is prepared, so no report on that meeting can be included in this document. It may be wise to have a garden project completed on the main campus prior to the café project in order to minimize disruption of the program. Further decisions on the garden program are needed to proceed with gardening on the main campus.
A third concern is the street crossing. This is not a new matter, and consideration of the street crossing was a part of the initial project plan. To access the cooking and gardening program, students must cross Ward Street. The crosswalk there is very faded and there are no traffic calming measures. The current situation is cause for concern. Currently, students cross the street in fewer numbers but in a slightly more haphazard way than would happen if the café were built. In response to this concern, project personnel met with the City of Berkeley during the schematic design and discussed two possible ideas. One idea is to provide traffic calming (curb bump outs, a raised speed table, and possibly even flashing lights) and the other is to provide either a temporary or permanent closure of Ward Street. The estimate includes a cost for some of the traffic calming measures. All traffic calming measures and any temporary or permanent street closure is in the purview of the City. A consideration of street closure requires numerous public hearings and as it can be an inconvenience for local residents, staff wants the Board to direct staff on whether to formally pursue street closure with the City.
There were six schemes developed in order to fully investigate the options. The attached/posted plan is the preferred option of the Site Committee. The scope of the project is to add a cafeteria and kitchen, to add a culinary classroom, to include outside eating and to have a small garden area. The exact type of garden to be built still needs further discussion. The project is currently scheduled to be built beginning in the late fall/early winter of 2014/15 and will take slightly longer than a year to complete. The estimate is $4,000,000, which includes $40,000 for additional gardening on the main campus. An alternate for street crossing (traffic calming) would add an
additional $40,000. The project without the alternate is slightly over budget, but it is within the budget if we include the amount budgeted for inflation from January – June 2013.
V-B – Parcel Tax and Bond Revenues: Provide the best possible education for all students by effectively utilizing local parcel tax and bond revenues.
Board approval of schematic design.
The recommended project is currently on budget, pending decisions on street closure. The project is funded in Measure I.
Approve the schematic design of the Longfellow Café. Continue to meet with the community to develop a viable garden and consider whether a separate garden project should be included in the Bond program. Provide staff direction on street options to pursue.