VA plans to use fuel oil for heating buildings

Using fuel oil for heating is so yesterday, yet that is exactly what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to use for its heating system at its proposed facilities at Alameda Point.

The heating system for the VA’s medical clinic and offices, as currently proposed, will utilize a boiler system heated by fuel oil.  The VA Project Manager, Kelvin Slaton, recently confirmed that it will be installing an underground fuel oil storage tank for boilers and a backup generator.  Slaton did not respond by press time as to why the VA did not choose a solar-powered electric heat pump. Continue reading “VA plans to use fuel oil for heating buildings”

Delays of VA Project tied to Trump Administration

Observations by former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) David Shulkin may shed light on why the VA Project at Alameda Point continues to be delayed and why the health clinic may never be built.   Constructing a new clinic conflicts with the Trump Administration’s goal of privatizing VA healthcare services.

In his book “It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Serve Your Country – Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans” (Public Affairs Books, October 2019), Shulkin recounts his experiences after being appointed to head the VA by President Trump in January 2017, and then fired by Tweet 15 months later.  Shulkin asserts he was fired because he would not go along with efforts of White House insiders to privatize VA healthcare. Continue reading “Delays of VA Project tied to Trump Administration”

VA Project delayed again

The City of Alameda recently disclosed that it is not going to proceed with the preparation of an environmental impact report on the Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient and columbarium project at Alameda Point, as previously announced in February.

The City hopes to instead rely on its 2014 Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report that contemplated the VA’s storm water drains.  “The City of Alameda has no jurisdiction over this project approval,” said Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director.  “Since it is not approving or denying the project, it does not need to do CEQA.”

A California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) impact report is required for the City to legally issue easements for the VA to lay new storm water drains across City property leading to the Oakland Estuary.

Continue reading “VA Project delayed again”

Word on the street about Alameda Point cleanup

Commercial hangar reuse

The massive aircraft hangar at the end of West Tower Avenue moved one step closer to commercial leasing last week.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) performed random radiation scanning inside the building to certify that the Navy’s cleanup of paint residue containing radium-226 was complete.  The other regulatory agencies have already signed off on the radiation cleanup after the Navy performed an inch-by-inch scanning effort.

As soon as this fall, CDPH could issue a letter that would allow the city to lease the building.  The nearly million-square-foot building complex (Building 5) has been unavailable to the city for leasing for more than a decade.  Other buildings on the base have been leased to the city by the Navy under what’s known as the Lease in Furtherance of Conveyance agreement, which has allowed the city to sublease the buildings until transfer of ownership. Continue reading “Word on the street about Alameda Point cleanup”

Unexpected Environmental Review of VA Project

The City of Alameda announced on February 22 that it will be preparing an environmental impact report (EIR) on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) project for a health clinic and columbarium cemetery at Alameda Point. The VA completed its environmental review for the project in 2013. The deadline for commenting on what the city should evaluate is March 22.

The belated environmental review was triggered by California regulations requiring a state EIR in order for the Regional Water Quality Control Board to approve the VA’s wetland mitigation plan.

An EIR is also required for City of Alameda approvals. “Although construction of federal facilities by federal agencies is typically exempt from local land use regulations and review,” said city planner Andrew Thomas, “in this case, the VA plans to construct an access utility/road on approximately 6-acres of city land to the east of the VA Transfer Parcel and two new storm drains across city-owned land to the north of the VA property, which will require approval of easements from the city, which are discretionary actions subject to CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act].”

Revisiting the project’s environmental impacts six years after the VA completed its review presents an opportunity to evaluate the potential environmental benefits of locating the medical clinic and benefits offices in the business “Enterprise District” rather than in the open space on the former airfield. Continue reading “Unexpected Environmental Review of VA Project”

Urban Shield conducts hostage rescue training on Nature Reserve

On Sept. 9, the tranquility of the remote shoreline on the federal property at Alameda Point was interrupted by participants firing blanks as an Urban Shield police tactical team staged a mock hostage rescue.  The gunfire was part of the emergency preparedness training that was performed in an area the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed not to use for this purpose. 

Continue reading “Urban Shield conducts hostage rescue training on Nature Reserve”

VA wetland study censored

The planned U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Alameda Point healthcare facility and columbarium will eliminate about 12 acres of existing wetland on the former Navy aircraft runway area.  The federal Clean Water Act requires that the VA compensate, or mitigate, for the adverse effects of their project.  But the proceedings have been cloaked in secrecy. 

“(b)5” is Exemption 5 in the Freedom of Information Act.

In February 2017, five months after submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information related to wetlands, the VA provided a copy of a consultant’s study on the feasibility of expanding and enhancing a different wetland on VA property.  But the document arrived with over half of the study either blacked out or stamped “Page withheld in its entirety.”

Continue reading “VA wetland study censored”