By Roz Rogoff
Coffee with Clarkson, and an homage to Kathy BernerUploaded: Oct 4, 2013
I wanted to wrap up my week's worth of answers from the candidates for City Council with a similar list from Mayor Bill Clarkson. I emailed Bill a list of questions but he hasn't sent answers back to me yet. He phoned me on Wednesday and invited me to meet him at Starbucks at 2 pm yesterday. He wanted to answer my questions in person.
I actually prefer to have the answers written down so I could just copy and paste them into a blog window without having to take notes or remember what someone said. Not only that, I did most of the talking yesterday and I can't even remember what I said.
Bill did tell me something I didn't know about the City Center, which I want to relate in this blog. I thought I knew it all about the planned City Center, and some of my readers already think I'm a know-it-all too, but I did not know that the design and location of the City Hall had been changed. I was still under the impression that the buildings planned for the new City Hall and Library would be built on the South side of Bollinger Canyon Road, next to Bishop Ranch 1.
Bill told me that the plans were changed because the original City Hall and Library would cost the City up to $30M which would have to be borrowed and repaid with interest up to $1.6M a year. I was very surprised to hear that. I attended the planning meetings for the City Center five years ago, and I thought that Sunset Development was paying for the whole thing. Bill said "No," Sunset was providing the land but not the buildings. I don't know how I could have missed that "minor" detail!
Bill said that's why the City Hall plans were redesigned and moved to the North side of Bollinger onto City property next to Central Park. Jessica Lipsky's front-page article shows the new design and location. One of the commenters pointed out that the building will be placed where the basketball courts are now. I guess Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes (whatever happened to him?) will have to practice somewhere else now.
In order to get Sunset to agree to pay for the City Hall and offices building, the City had to forfeit the new Library building. Instead the existing one will be renovated. I like the existing Library building. If we did build a new one, I thought the old building could be made into a Teen Center or used for some other City purpose.
Bill told me it is much less expensive to remodel the existing building than to build a new one and can be just as effective. He compared it to remodeling Cal High instead of adding new buildings. The remodel Bill described for the Library sounds very functional and the existing building is attractive, easily accessible, and conveniently located away from traffic. This sounds like a win-win all around for the City, Sunset, and Library fans.
The new City Center plans will be discussed at the City Council meeting this Tuesday, October 8th. Bill asked if I would be at the meeting. I haven't been attending City Council meetings lately, but I will be at this one. This is an important decision and I would like to add my input in person instead of in my blog.
This meeting will also feature posthumous "Recognition of Parks and Community Services Commissioner Kathy Berner's Service to the City of San Ramon." This was on the agenda for the last City Council meeting but was postponed so Berner's family could attend. I did not know Kathy Berner had passed away or that she was battling cancer for the past year.
Kathy Berner and I interviewed for the Parks Commission in 2006. She gave a better interview and was appointed. She was a much better choice than I was.
In March, 2012 Kathy and John Mills interviewed me for reappointment to the Arts Advisory Committee. Kathy used to be on the plump side, and I noticed she lost a lot of weight. She looked very healthy and I complemented her on it. She thanked me for noticing it.
After she was replaced on the Parks Commission by Will Doerlich in June, 2012, I phoned her and left a couple of messages suggesting she apply to the Arts Advisory Committee. I had no idea she was battling cancer at that time.
She died on August 21, 2013 at only 60 years old. My condolences to her family. She will be honored by Parks Commission Chairman Bill Meine at the City Council meeting next week.