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Parks Division
Parks Division


AQUATIC PARK


80 Bolivar Drive
at the foot of Bancroft Way 
between Ashby and University Avenues

Aquatic Park Duck in Water

Aquatic Park Grass Area Aquatic Park Pathway Aquatic Park Exercise Equipment 2 Aquatic Park View of Water

Located in the southwest corner of Berkeley, Aquatic Park is a long linear 100 acre park between Ashby and University Avenues. The official address of the park is 80 Bolivar at the base of Bancroft Avenue. The lagoon, which makes up 67.7 acres of the park, has two water sources- tidal water from San Francisco bay and fresh water from storm water that drains into the lagoon. The park is inclusive of streets that surround the Park. Aquatic Park provides a wide range of recreational opportunities including, walking, biking, picnicking, boating, bird watching and Frisbee golf. Swimming and fishing are not allowed. 

Aquatic Park Water Quality 


Getting There:

Nearest Bike Blvds: Channing (.07 miles), Heinz/Russell (.25 miles), 9th St. (.37 miles)
Nearest Bus Lines: H (.05 miles), 51B (.07 miles), J (.25 miles), Z (.25 miles), 49 (.25 miles), 72R (.5 miles), 802 (.5 miles)
Nearest Bart Stops: North Berkeley (1.3 miles), Ashby (1.5 miles), Downtown Berkeley (1.8 miles) 

History

Aquatic Park was constructed between 1935 and 1937 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was built as part of the Berkeley Waterfront Project along with the construction of the Bayshore Highway and Yacht Harbor. Tide gates were constructed to help keep the water level constant in Aquatic Park Lake. A citywide celebration entitled “Pageant of the Land and Sea” was held on May 7, 1937, to formally dedicate the park for public use. 

Aquatic Park Lake was designed to conform to international standards for Model Yacht Racing, and in 1938 both the National and Pacific Coast Regatta for M-class Boats were held at the park. 

Through the years, community participation has played a key role in the development of various features at Aquatic Park. Most recently, over 2,000 volunteers, organized through Friends of Aquatic Park and Berkeley Partners for Parks, participated in creating "Dream Land for Kids," a fantasy playground designed by Berkeley school children under the guidance of architect Robert Leathers and Associates.

Features

  • Play Structure (Dream Land): Unique wooden playground – East Side  
  • Open Turf Areas – East Side 
  • Picnic Areas (First Come, First Serve) - East and West Side 
  • Walking and Biking Trails - East and West side 
  • 18 hole Frisbee Golf Course - East Side 
  • Fitness Exercise area - East Side
  • Canoe and Boat Access/Dock – Southwest end of park 
  • Pedestrian/Bike Bridge across I-80 - Northwest end of park                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Restroom: Yes, east side of park (Near Dream Land)

Parking: Limited parking available middle of eastern side (down from Bancroft) and northeast end of park    

Acreage: 32.76 land acres  |  1,427,000 sq. ft.  |  67.7 water acres (Aquatic Park Lake) 

Accessibility: Handicapped / wheelchair accessible

Rental: For reservations or more information, call the Recreation Office at 510-981-5150, or visit Facility Rentals

Park Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM (unless otherwise indicated)

Park Maintenance: For questions please visit Parks Maintenance.


Facilities and Non-Profits Located In Aquatic Park

Berkeley Animal Shelter, 1 Bolivar Drive (Northeast end of AP)
https://www.cityofberkeley.info/animalservices/

Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club (Southwest end of AP)
https://www.berkeleyrowingclub.org/

Youth Musical Theater Company, 2925-2945 Bolivar Drive (Southeast end of AP)
https://ymtcbayarea.org/

Waterside Workshops, 84 Bolivar Drive (Bicycle Sales/ Rentals). 90 Bolivar Drive (Public Shop)
https://watersideworkshops.org/

Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), 80 Bolivar Drive (Adaptive Cycling Center)
http://www.borp.org/

Berkeley Waterski Club, (Middle West area of AP)
https://bwsc.webflow.io/

Technical Studies:  

A) Aquatic Park Improvement Program Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)The City of Berkeley has completed a Draft Environmental Impact Report, pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, for the proposed Berkeley Aquatic Park Improvement Program. (November 2012)

B) Aquatic Park Improvement Program DEIR Notice of Public Hearings  

C) Aquatic Park Historic Property Survey Report: Updating Existing Conditions (2012) 

D) Historic Property Survey Report for the I-80 Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing Project (1999) 

E) Aquatic Park Improvement Program (APIP) (March 2008): Building on the Natural Resource Management Study, the following reports have been prepared by Laura; Marcus & Associates, and Hydrologic Systems, Inc, and are available for downloadExecutive SummarySummary ReportTechnical Reportand Appendices. 

F) Aquatic Park Natural Resource Management Study (December 2003):  The Aquatic Park Natural Resources Management Study has been prepared by Laurel Marcus & Associates and describes a series of alternative water circulation and lagoon habitat improvements.   

G) Aquatic Park Waterbird Disturbance Study

 

Aquatic Park Central Tide Tubes Maintenance Sediment Removal and Inspection Project  

The five tide tubes that connect the Aquatic Park Main Lagoon to the San Francisco Bay are significantly clogged with marine growth and sediment, which limits the proper flow of water between the lagoon and the Bay. This has two major impacts: a) the reduced exchange of water between the SF Bay and the main lagoon has impaired water quality; and b) the lagoon floods during storms because storm water enters the lagoon rapidly during storms, but takes weeks to slowly drain to the Bay.  

The Hydrology of Aquatic Park 

The water in Aquatic Park comes from two sources – tidal water from the San Francisco Bay during high tides, and fresh water from storm water that drains into the lagoon. See attachment #1 for a detailed map of Aquatic Park.  

Tidal Water at the Model Yacht Basin

The tidal water enters and exits through the Potter Street storm drain pipe; (it should be noted that a separate tide tube to the Bay is no longer functional). At the Radio Tower Pond (partially owned by the City), tidal water enters and exits through an existing tide tube to the Bay. The main lagoon is connected to the SF Bay via five existing tide tubes. A sixth tide tube in the main lagoon is visible on the north end, but it no longer functions. These tubes have flap gates that can be manually raised or lowered. The flap allows water from the Bay to enter the lagoon during higher tides and keeps water in the lagoon to a certain depth during low tides. Although the tide tubes have received occasional maintenance cleaning over the years, the issue of sand and sediment clogging the tubes has been a persistent problem since they were originally constructed. At present, the tide tubes at the main lagoon are mostly clogged with sediment and there is very little flow between the lagoon and the Bay. The tidal water exchange at Model Yacht Basin is better than at the main lagoon. The exchange at the Radio Tower Pond has not been extensively studied, but the odors and aquatic growth in the pond suggests the exchange is poor. 

Fresh Water from Urban Runoff

During storms, urban runoff enters Aquatic Park through multiple storm drains on the eastern side of the lagoon, as well several other smaller local culverts (see attachment 2 for map of storm drains). These pipes receive storm water from the properties, streets, and sidewalks from the local watershed in Berkeley generally bounded by San Pablo Avenue, Ashby Avenue, and University Avenue. In addition, some amount of overflow storm water from the storm drain on University Avenue can also enter the main lagoon at Aquatic Park during storms and high tides. Fresh water also enters Aquatic Park from several small groundwater springs that emerge from the Southern Pacific Railroad berm along the central portion of the east side of the main lagoon.  

History of Aquatic Park

The concept of the Berkeley Aquatic Park lagoon came about when the state constructed the Bayshore Highway in the mid-1930’s. The highway was designed to run directly north from Oakland to Richmond, which meant that a portion would run slightly west of the existing shoreline through the submerged tidelands of the East Bay. To construct the levee for the highway, sandy soils were needed. The section of highway levee through Berkeley was constructed with sands that were dredged from the Berkeley Yacht Harbor area as well as the area just east of the highway. This dredged area to the east became Berkeley Aquatic Park. From 1935 to 1937, the project to construct Aquatic Park was funded primarily by the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) and was part of a series of recreational facilities built in the Bay Area in the 1930s.  

By 1953, a new levee was constructed at the southern end of the lagoon that created the Model Yacht Basin, and the new road on top of the levee was called South Bolivar Drive.  

By 1979, a portion of East Bolivar Drive was removed to create additional open space, landscaped areas and trails.

Major Studies of Aquatic Park

Several studies of Aquatic Park have been completed in the past 30 years:

  • In 1990, the City completed a Draft Aquatic Park Master Plan that included several technical studies and community workshops. The plan, however, did not go through a formal adoption process. The Draft Master Plan contained the 1990 technical hydrology study by Philips Williams Associates (PWA) that describes the basic hydrology of Aquatic Park. Draft Aquatic Park Master Plan
  • In 1994, CH2MHill Inc. produced another technical hydrology study that looked at various ways to improve the water circulation at Aquatic Park. CH2MHill Inc report
  • In 2003, the City retained Laurel Marcus Associates (LMA) to produce the Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMS) that inventoried existing habitat and proposed several projects to improve habitat and water quality at Aquatic Park. Natural Resources Management Plan
  • In 2007, the City retained Laurel Marcus & Associates and Hydrologic Systems, Inc. to produce the Aquatic Park Improvement Program (APIP) and Atkins, Inc. to produce the CEQA analysis to guide the City for future improvement projects at Aquatic Park.  Due to funding and other considerations, the CEQA analysis (the 2009 Draft Environmental Impact Report), did not go through a formal adoption process. Aquatic Park Improvement Program
  • In 2017, the Aquatic Park Tide Tubes Rehabilitation Project was selected for funding from the Measure T1 Infrastructure bond program, and is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020. Aquatic Park Tide Tubes Rehabilitation Project

 

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