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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Caspian and Elegant Terns join Least Terns to nest at Alameda Point

Naval Air Station-Alameda gained notoriety as a refuge for the endangered California Least Tern when the base closed in 1997.  Over 500 acres were dedicated to protecting the terns’ adopted nesting site next to a runway formerly used by jet aircraft. 

This unlikely bird habitat for the Least Terns some 400 miles north of their historic breeding grounds along the southern California coast offered the birds something they had lost, which drove them to the brink of extinction – nesting sites free of human disturbance near a source of small fish to feed their chicks. 

Surprisingly, two other tern species have recently begun nesting in the vicinity.  Elegant and Caspian Terns seem to be thriving there, while the endangered Least Terns are struggling.

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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.

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Alameda Point harbor seals attract educational groups

About 240 students from Eldorado Middle School in Concord visited Alameda Point to make observations of the harbor seals on March 22.  The school participates in an educational program sponsored by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito called Ocean Ambassadors. 

The students arrived in two groups.  While the first group was at the trailside viewing site, a second group was on a ferry ride around San Francisco Bay to view marine wildlife. The second group arrived in the afternoon, while the first group went on the ferry excursion.

Alameda Point was chosen for viewing harbor seals because it is the only place on the Bay that is easily accessible for viewing seals.

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