Changing stories, ballooning costs cloud VA project at Alameda Point

Every couple years there is a new story from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on why there are delays in building the veterans facilities at Alameda Point.  Meanwhile, the costs have skyrocketed from $208 million to $395 million. 

Two new stories emerged this summer, just as the VA is requesting another $128 million in the 2023 federal budget for the Alameda Point project. 

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Alameda Point developer completes public art installations

During August, an art sculpture was placed in the street median at the so-called gateway location, another in the Seaplane Lagoon waterfront park.

These two projects satisfy the city’s public art requirement in the development deal for Site A, which stipulated that the developer spend $300,000 on public art.  The budget for the gateway artwork was $100,000, and $200,000 for the waterfront park project.

In order to select its artists, the developer, Alameda Point Partners, conducted a Request for Qualifications process for the two sites at Alameda Point.  The process generated 172 submissions, which were reviewed by an evaluation panel of six Alameda community members, design professionals, and stakeholders. The panel then selected seven finalists to create proposals, offering an honorarium of $1,500 to each finalist. After reviewing the proposals, the panel conducted one round of follow-up questions before making their selections.

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Nesting ospreys a must-see on Seaplane ferry ride

Limited time opportunity!  Catch a rare glimpse of nesting ospreys during a ride on the Seaplane ferry.  The birds won’t be here much longer.    

The adult ospreys have been bringing fish, the only food they eat, to their young for about a month.  Their three fledglings are almost ready to start flying.  Once the young birds start flying, they will hang around the nest for a week or two before they depart and have to quickly become adept at catching their own fish.

Ospreys nesting around San Francisco Bay is a relatively recent phenomenon, according to Tony Brake, a volunteer who has been monitoring ospreys around the Bay for over a decade.    “There were no historical nesting records for ospreys until 1990,” said Brake.

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Ready reserve ships vacate Alameda Point

The Alameda Point waterfront that was once full of ships is looking different.

In mid-July, the last of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force of ships left Alameda Point for new berths.  The fleet, owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation, left Alameda because of the costs associated with dredging the channel.  MARAD ships are on-call for transporting military supplies and providing humanitarian relief. 

City staff will be seeking direction from the City Council in the near future on how to proceed with tapping the revenue potential at the vacant piers.  Staff will also be seeking funding to repair severely deteriorated concrete support piles under Pier 2 and other deferred pier maintenance.  

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Brown pelicans love their Alameda Point summer home

Every summer, thousands of California Brown Pelicans migrate north to the San Francisco Bay area from breeding sites on the Channel Islands and Mexico.  As many as 8,000 have been counted on their favorite resting site in the Bay on the isolated breakwater barrier at Alameda Point, known as Breakwater Island or the outer rock wall.

From a distance, the birds blend into the alternating dark and light background of the rocks.  A July 22, 2022, kayak excursion to the area provided a telephoto opportunity to share the colors, character, and peaceful demeanor of these iconic birds. 

Below is a photo gallery showing some of the thousands that were on the north side of the rock wall that day.

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New infrastructure in the pipeline at Alameda Point

Replacing the antiquated underground infrastructure at Alameda Point will be accomplished slowly through the sale of parcels owned by the city.  

One major infrastructure project is now underway and is expected to take two and half years to complete.  This $31 million contract was awarded to A&B Construction in March 2022 and covers seven blocks through the heart of the former Navy base.  The streets around two of the blocks will receive a deluxe upgrade to what is termed a “complete street.”  This means that in addition to new underground utilities, storm water lines, and sewer lines, there will also be a natural filtration system for storm water runoff, bike lanes, transit stops, street lighting, and full landscaping.  The other nearby blocks will only receive new water lines due to lack of funding.

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Seaplane Lagoon waterfront park to be officially named

On Thursday, July 14, the Alameda Recreation and Park Commission will be asked to make a recommendation to the City Council on a name for the park along the north side of the Seaplane Lagoon.  The first phase of the park is complete and open to the public.  Currently the City refers to it as Alameda Point Waterfront Park.  The park was the site of an opening festival on April 9th staged by Rhythmix Cultural Works and West End Arts District.  Other phases will build out the entire northern edge of the Seaplane Lagoon as a waterfront promenade with the western edge being De-Pave Park, an ecological nature park.

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