Alameda Point Open Space: East Bay Regional Park District’s Emerging Role and Where to Locate the VA Outpatient Facility
Golden Gate University’s Center on Urban Environmental Law (CUEL) recently sent aletterto Robert Doyle, General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD); John Russo, Alameda City Manager; and Larry Janes, Capital Assets Manager for the Veterans Administration Sierra Pacific Network commenting on the ongoing discussion about the location of a VA outpatient clinic at Alameda Point and the management of open space.
In the letter signed by co-director Paul Kibel, he states that a “more expansive role for EBRPD at Alameda Point aligns well and advances several of the proposals in CUEL’s September 2011 Flight Park Booklet. First, consistent with the Hannover Principles on Land Use, granting EBRPD authority to manage open space on both the City and federal portions of Alameda Point will help ensure that such management is based on integrated protection of habitats and viewsheds rather than arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries.”
“Second, and once again consistent with the Hannover Principles, allowing EBRPD to plan open space at Alameda Point on this broader geographic scale will facilitate the creation of self-regulating and self-adjusting habitats and landscapes (that require less maintenance costs down the road).”
“Third, the appointment of one qualified agency (EPRPD) to coordinate and oversee all the wetlands at Alameda Point will help streamline the process for establishing a conservation mitigation bank to fund the design, enhancement and expansion of wetlands resources throughout the entire Alameda Point acreage.”
Unresolved issues – alternative site recommendation
While supportive of locating a VA facility at Alameda Point, CUEL questions the wisdom of locating the VA building facilities on the Northwest Territories due to view impairment, earthquake seismic safety, traffic, and transit accessibility concerns. They suggest an alternative site: The one that the city was offering to the Berkeley Lab for its Second Campus.
The following was prepared by Leora Feeney, co-chair of “Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Refuge,” a committee of the Golden Gate Audubon Society.
Delivered to the Alameda City Council on Monday, March 19, 2012, regarding the city-VA-park district proposal being considered for Alameda Point.
Alameda Point Collaboration
Veterans Health and Memorial Facilities
CA Least Tern Colony
Nature and Wildlife
Passive Open Space
Unsurpassed Inner-City Views and Experience
Subject: East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) proposal for Northwest Territories
Benefits to the City of Alameda
Preserves city resources – The proposal will help defer considerable Alameda Point related costs and responsibility to the city, already having multiple difficult challenges.
Meets land use challenges – The land is not suitable for uses beyond open space and water-related uses. Current wetlands will require mitigation. Several issues surround this property that will meet challenges with most development proposals.
Enhances Alameda’s identity – Alameda’s military history, well-recognized wildlife history and resources, and East Bay shoreline location make this project the perfect fit to further enhance Alameda’s identity.
Realizes payoff from stakeholder investments – Consider stakeholders’ investments that also benefit Alameda:
The VA has spent millions of dollars to move their city-supported project forward. The proposal would allow them to see an end to conflicts that have stalled this investment. Alameda would finally become the home to the VA’s Health and Memorial complex.
The City of Alameda has also invested time and thought to uphold a position that supports the VA facility and that endangered wildlife at Alameda Point are to have top priority.
The Navy and Fish & Wildlife Service have invested time and money to maintain endangered wildlife species.
EBRPD has spent time and money to develop a plan that would resolve difficulties in a way that would meet several positive goals.
Golden Gate Audubon Society since the 1980s and Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Refuge (FAWR) since 1997 have been steadfast supporters of endangered California Least Terns at The Alameda Naval Air Station, later Alameda Point, ensuring continuous success of the colony. FAWR also provides annual elementary school Least Tern education at Alameda Schools.
Others, like the Center for Urban Environmental Law (CUEL) at Golden Gate University, have worked to develop their Greenspace proposal for this beautiful location.
Initiates Park District investment – To design and carry out the project will require an investment of many millions of dollars. The city will benefit from this investment by EBRPD.
Enhances property values – Several studies show that wildlife refuges and natural areas increase values to nearby properties.
Attracts investors – The project will attract investors, spurring Alameda Point development.
Strengthens tenant relations – Current tenants will appreciate that habitat management will have a broader plan and operation.
Attracts tourism – The project – a San Francisco Bay destination point – will be a draw to local, state, national, and even world tourists.
Brings local spending – The site will attract many welcome and diverse activities (photography, birding, hiking) that will benefit local merchants.
Adopts a workable solution – This is the only solution available that will allow both CA Least Terns and the VA project to coexist as adjacent Alameda neighbors.
Satisfies community priorities – The project satisfies a strong wish of the public for natural areas and open space expressed during Alameda Point-Going Forward meetings held in 2010-2011.
Creates inner-city showcase – The site will serve the community and others as a unique opportunity for inner-city nature experience and education.
Enhances parks-to-resident ratio – Alameda’s Park Master Plan Summary (Draft, p. 25) states that the park-acreage-to-residents ratio is low (2 acres to 1000 residents; standard for CA cities is 3 to 6 acres/1000). This proposal would improve the ratio considerably.
Aligns with park master plan – The draft Park Master Plan also states (p. 37), “Alameda Point is anticipated to be the location for passive parks operated by EBRPD.”
Builds on existing park district partnership – EBRPD has been a good partner managing Crown Beach, relieving Alameda of difficult tidal shoreline and beach management. We can count on them for similar assistance at Alameda Point.
In conclusion: The CA Least Tern colony can’t be moved, and the VA facility can. The willingness of this unusual collaboration of stakeholders to work together is a testament to the importance of the project. It is rare and refreshing to see that people with diverse goals have the ability to work together to find a solution that satisfies multiple valued needs in difficult times. With the acceptance of this proposal Alameda will be a giant step closer to moving Alameda Point toward a promising future. We must not let this opportunity escape. The alternative would be tragic, a prolonged stalemate and unknown future. Alameda’s City Council can make this work. It will be a historical decision.