Opening of park at Seaplane Lagoon highlights climate change

On April 9, 2022, the first phase of the terraced Alameda Point Seaplane Lagoon waterfront park officially opened with cultural performances.  One of the groups christening the new three-acre park was Fog Beast, in collaboration with the Shawl Anderson Youth Ensemble.  Their performances captured the nature of the park, highlighting climate change and sea level rise.

Fog Beast has been creating performances on shorelines around the Bay for the last two years in collaboration with climate scientists, shoreline geologists and climate-engaged teenage artists. 

“It was great timing to be invited by Tara Pilbrow of the West End Arts District to perform at the opening of a new shoreline park in Alameda,” said Melecio Estrella, a Fog Beast Co-Director.  “The launch of the Waterfront Park was a great opportunity to continue this exploration.”

Andrew Ward, the other co-director, is a landscape architect who “merges these sensibilities into Fog Beast’s site specific dance theater performance practice,” explained Estrella.  “The landscape design of the new waterfront park, itself vulnerable to sea level rise, was a fertile and inspiring place to celebrate with Fog Beast’s form of public art.”

Their work challenges people in the spirit of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to not accept timid responses to impending climate disaster that only decorate the landscape.  In one of their performances they sing, “Manufactured landscapes, as far as we can see, decorate the smoke stacks, and plant a few more trees.”

This first phase of the park is designed to include event space.  Saturday’s festival illustrated just how well the park’s fluid design can bring thousands of people to cultural events at the shoreline.  The ensemble of dancers, singers, and musicians performed their message of climate adaptation fittingly on the terraces of this shoreline park designed to adapt to sea level rise. 

The park, which serves as a levee, was built by Alameda Point Partners, the developer of the nearby mixed-use area known as Site A. 

The grand opening celebrated the first phase of the park.  By 2024, the Site A developer will double the length of the currently completed phase.  The city is in the process of officially naming the park.

As phases of the park on the northern shoreline are constructed by future developers, the designs will become gradually more focused on passive uses, culminating at the western shoreline where De-Pave Park will begin.  De-Pave Park will be a publicly accessible tidal wetland ecological park designed to continually adapt to rising sea level without a levee.

When sea level rises by 18 inches, a seven-foot-tall sea wall will be built along the lower promenade of the section of park that was just completed. Then, everything between the sea wall and the upper level will be filled in. The ground underneath the lower promenade has already been reinforced to a depth of 15 feet to withstand the weight of a sea wall and all of the future fill material.

The festival of events was presented by the West End Arts District, Rhythmix Cultural Works, and the City of Alameda.  The main sponsor was Alameda Point Partners.

Fog Beast provided us with the lyrics to one of their songs.

Multimeter sea level rise
likely unavoidable
Social disruption
economic consequences

Forced migrations
quickly changing habitat
We may be looking at
The next mass extinction

Some say we are from the ocean
species come and species go
Along the line we got the notion
that we design and run the show

Manufactured landscapes
as far as we can see
decorate the smoke stacks
and plant a few more trees

All kinds of weather
frequently extreme now
everyone together
disaster relief

Some say we are from the ocean
species come and species go
Along the line we got the notion
that we design and run the show

Forced migrations
quickly changing habitat
We may be looking at
The next mass extinction

Manufactured landscapes
as far as we can see
decorate the smoke stacks
and plant a few more trees

A shorter version was originally published in the Alameda Post and Alameda Sun.

Adaptation plan

Excerpts from SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission permit

The upper areas of the waterfront park are designed to be resilient to flooding at 2100, assuming 3.4 feet of sea level rise (under the “low” risk aversion scenario in the 2018 State of California Sea Level Rise Guidance) and a 100-year storm event.

The applicants propose raising a portion of the public access to accommodate flooding under the “low” risk sea level rise scenario.

The conceptual adaptation plan would raise an approximately 35-foot-wide portion of the lower promenade and terraces, along the entire length of the site, to the elevation of the upper promenade. This would involve construction of a seawall along part of the lower promenade and filling in the terraces to achieve a flat park area at the higher elevation.

With the implementation of this adaptation measure, an approximately 15- to 20-foot-wide portion of the lower promenade at the shoreline edge of the site would remain at its existing elevation and is expected to be lost to tidal inundation.

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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