The city of Berkley will hold a series of informational meetings starting Thursday, March 1, on November ballot initiatives that would improve the Community Center, City Hall and infrastructure.

The city of Berkley will hold a series of informational meetings starting Thursday, March 1, on November ballot initiatives that would improve the Community Center, City Hall and infrastructure.

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Informational meetings to address Berkley ballot initiatives

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published February 27, 2018

BERKLEY — The city of Berkley will be holding a series of informational meetings beginning in March that will deal with November ballot initiatives that would improve the Community Center, City Hall and infrastructure.

The first meeting, a town hall centering on all the initiatives, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at the Community Center, 2400 Robina Ave.

The meetings that follow will focus on one ballot initiative each. From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Berkley City Hall, 3338 Coolidge Highway, the meeting will be on the renovations at City Hall and the historic Fire Hall. 

The next meeting will be about the proposed new Community Center and will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the current center. The last meeting, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at the Berkley Public Safety Building, 2395 12 Mile Road, will be about city infrastructure.

City Manager Matt Baumgarten said the meetings will be a balance between presentations and information stations. The city has used the format before, including at the first informational meeting in January.

He said that what the city has found is that people get a lot more of their questions answered if both sides are able to have more of a dialogue, instead of people speaking into a microphone.

“We really like that format,” he said. “We like to keep this a dialogue as opposed to a presentation. You don’t talk at anybody, as much as we want to talk with people. That’s the theme that we’re going to be approaching each of these meetings with.”

Baumgarten said the meeting on March 1 will be a continuation of the January meeting, which included concept designs and expected costs.

The Community Center is expected to cost $15.25 million, City Hall renovations would cost $4.5 million and a road millage for infrastructure improvements would tax 2 mills for 10 years, generating $1.1 million per year. The Community Center and City Hall proposals would be paid through bonds.

“(We’ll) generally kind of talk about people’s concerns on where they want to go next and how all these three things work together, and then we get into the next three (meetings), which are item-specific,” Baumgarten said. “So if you’re more interested in the Community Center, you get the chance to talk about that directly. If you’re not as interested in the City Hall or the infrastructure millage, or you’re already very supportive of those things, then you don’t have to sit through a presentation that may not apply to where your questions are.”

After these meetings are done, Baumgarten said, there will be another round of these types of meetings in the summer and fall before the vote to remind people of the issues and let them ask questions.

The concept designs for the Community Center were designed by the firm Stantec. Patrick Calhoun, a senior associate and senior planner, said those conceptual designs came from input they received on Parks and Recreation Department surveys.

“We took all that into account to develop a program of spaces; essentially, a list of spaces of how big they needed to be, why they were important and who they would serve. We used that to develop the concept planning, fit that onto the site, develop some architectural ideas to give the building form and to really help people understand what it could look like,” Calhoun said. 

“That’s what we presented and, most importantly, to develop a solid conceptual design budget. Based on what we know with construction costs right now, that is approximately what we believe it will cost. The goal of that presentation was to show people, based on all the different inputs we’ve received so far, this is where we see this headed to give you an idea and a budget,” Calhoun further stated.

Calhoun said that if the initiative passes, the plans would go to the schematic design phase. The firm has not done anything more to the conceptual designs since they were shown in January.

He said the firm will wait to touch the designs for now. Once they get feedback from the city, Calhoun said, they’ll work on any things that need to be addressed before it goes out for the vote. 

“That would be getting ahead of the city’s current efforts, and we do not want to spend their money twice,” he said.