Wetland park plan at Seaplane Lagoon gets a boost

It’s more likely a new wetland will be created on the western shoreline of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, thanks to lobbying efforts led by the Sierra Club.

Sierra Club in Alameda's 4th of July Parade 2014
Sierra Club in Alameda’s 4th of July Parade 2014

On July 1, 2014, the Alameda City Council added language to the Alameda Point Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan that raises the commitment to remove pavement from the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon for wetland—an area called De-Pave Park.  Lobbying efforts convinced the council to include the following options to help facilitate the wetland park creation:  1) creating a wetland mitigation bank; 2) adding the area to a possible national wildlife refuge on the federal property; and 3) working with local community members who may identify funding sources for creating the passive park area.

West shoreline of Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, with vegetation emerging through unnecessary pavement at future wetland park area.  Looking south, with channel and breakwater in background.
West shoreline of Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, with vegetation emerging through unnecessary pavement at future wetland park area. Looking south, with channel and breakwater in background.

The Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan, which focuses on the area around Alameda Point’s Seaplane Lagoon, now includes language (highlighted in bold) in the Public Grants and Loans section of the Conceptual Financing Plan for financing infrastructure and park improvements that reads: “Grants and other special revenues provided by third parties, such as the federal government, including possible funds associated with wetlands mitigation banks, a potential national wildlife refuge, and other creative funding sources for open space and wetlands. These sources of funds may be identified and obtained in concert with local members of the community.”

A sentence was also added to the De-Pave Park description that limits the use of existing buildings until funding is secured to create the park and demolish the buildings, which reads:  The buildings within the West Waterfront (De-Pave Park) area may remain and be used for interim leasing until such time as the park is fully funded.

Runway Wetland - Seaplane Lagoon frontage - Channel

The Sierra Club submitted two comment letters on the Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan, as well as writing a commentary that was published in local newspapers and online. “The detrimental effects of having lost 80 percent of wetlands around the Bay have been known for decades. The impact of fossil fuel burning on the atmosphere has reached alarming levels. Wetlands capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel burning, produce oxygen, and enhance wildlife and marine habitat,” said the Sierra Club’s Norman La Force.

The Sierra Club was not as successful in getting the city council to remove the aircraft hangar known as Building 25 at the edge of the De-Pave Park area, even though the city’s Planning Board and Councilmember Stewart Chen agreed with the Club recommending specific language that would limit the lifespan of this structure. Many residents and potential developers have considered the building an eyesore on the San Francisco skyline. The council’s main reason for not wanting to demolish this structure, for the time being, is the lease revenue it generates for Alameda Point maintenance. Staff noted that the plan does not preclude a future city council from deciding to demolish Building 25.

American Avocets on wetland area of Nature Reserve zone of federal property.
American Avocets on wetland area of Nature Reserve zone of federal property.  Located in the center of the old runway area.

The final description of De-Pave Park in the Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan is as follows:  The western edge of the Seaplane Lagoon, behind which sits the planned Nature Reserve, is intended to be a park for visitors to enjoy nature and appreciate ecologically rich constructed habitat areas. ‘De-Pave’ Park combines a proactive ecological agenda with a compelling visitor experience by placing a picnic, camping and interpretive program within a large-scale sustainable landscape. The landscape strategy is to transform this vast paved area into a thriving ecology by removing the paving and nurturing ecological succession. Existing paved areas are left to remain in specific areas to accommodate circulation and camping/picnic uses. Floating wetland docks could beadded for increased habitat, and non-motorized boat access. Existing buildings along the western edge of De-Pave Park could remain if needed, however sea level rise adaptation strategies for this park area are to allow immersion and succession to a tidal ecology. The buildings within the West Waterfront (De-Pave Park) area may remain and be used for interim leasing until such time as the park is fully funded.”

Alameda Point Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan – July 2014

More on west Seaplane Lagoon:  “Shoreline grassland, wetland:  An opportunity now at Alameda Point.”

Alameda Point map w/Seaplane Lagoon

Flowering grass at Seaplane Lagoon with ladybug

American Avocet at Alameda Point

Caspian Terns at seasonal wetland on federal property next to future VA Clinic.
Caspian Terns at seasonal wetland on federal property next to future VA Clinic.

Author: richard94501

My blog is Alameda Point Environmental Report covering environmental issues from wildlife to cleanup at the former Navy base in Alameda now called Alameda Point. Articles on my blog are frequently printed in the Alameda Sun newspaper. I also host a Twitter site and a Flickr photo site. I hope you find my stories and photos of interest. Richard Bangert Alameda, California

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