Mismanaged VA project stumbles along, officials remain silent

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) healthcare facility and cemetery project at Alameda Point still has not broken ground, a decade after the first round of Congressional funding.  Public officials appear to look away.

The latest setback comes with the VA having to re-do the contract for constructing the wetland mitigation plan.  For unknown reasons, in November 2020, less than four months after the VA hired a company to perform the wetland work for $2.37 million, that company is out of the picture.  The VA is now trying to find other companies with the same engineering skillset.  The actual competitive bidding process will follow.  The VA estimates the wetland project could now cost between $5 million and $10 million.  Continue reading “Mismanaged VA project stumbles along, officials remain silent”

Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good

A new artisan bakery with a noble mission is coming to Alameda.  Firebrand Artisan Breads of Oakland will be moving most of its production facilities to a renovated warehouse at Alameda Point in the coming months, bringing most of its 90 employees and hiring more. 

Customers know this bakery by the taste of its gourmet baked goods and deli selections.  Employees know this bakery by the taste of a life-changing opportunity for a good job. The company will employ up to 150 people striving to overcome employment barriers, such as previously being homeless and previously incarcerated. Continue reading “Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good”

Saildrone launches world’s largest deep ocean exploration drone

News Release from Alameda Point company Saildrone:

ALAMEDA, Jan 11, 2021 – Saildrone, Inc. has launched a 72 foot (22 m) version of its uncrewed surface vehicles, known as saildrones. Powered by wind and solar energy, saildrones are capable of extreme-duration missions of up to 12 months in the open ocean. This latest and largest version, the first in the Surveyor class of USVs, is called the Saildrone Surveyor, and carries sonar equipment capable of seafloor mapping down to 7,000 m.

Enhanced seabed mapping is vital for the security, safety, and economic health of nation states, and is critical to the growth of the “Blue Economy,” which, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is valued at $1.5 trillion a year and creates the equivalent of 31 million full-time jobs.

Coinciding with the start of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the launch of the Saildrone Surveyor presents a paradigm shift in enhanced seabed mapping, which is currently done with very large and expensive manned ships. The Surveyor, uncrewed and powering its robust sensor suite by harvesting renewable energy, delivers an equivalent survey capability, but at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint of a traditional survey ship. Continue reading “Saildrone launches world’s largest deep ocean exploration drone”

Dune Restoration, Shoreline Project Completed

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) completed its beach and dune improvement project at Alameda Point in December 2020.   The complete facelift comes on the heels of the city upgrading the nearby boat ramp.  The area is accessible from Central Avenue next to Encinal High School.

The beach is a popular launch site for non-motorized watercraft, such as kayaks, outrigger canoes, and paddle boards.  The EBRPD project has greatly enhanced recreational functionality by providing easier access to the water from the parking lot down to the beach.  The new landscaping has also improved the overall aesthetics of the shoreline. Continue reading “Dune Restoration, Shoreline Project Completed”

Decades-long groundwater solvent cleanup completed at Building 5

A liquid solvent that is able to dissolve other substances can run, but it can’t hide from investigators, even 20 feet below ground.  A toxic cleaning solvent called trichloroethane (TCE) was used to degrease metal parts in industrial operations at the Navy’s aircraft repair facility.  When this solvent leaks into soil and groundwater, as it did in Building 5 at Alameda Point, the odorless vapors can cause cancer and other ill health effects to occupants of buildings above as it evaporates.

The actual process of cleaning up the contamination, while time-consuming, is not the real problem.  The real challenge is finding it, measuring it, and calculating what the safe cleanup level is for future use of the building, in this case commercial. Continue reading “Decades-long groundwater solvent cleanup completed at Building 5”

Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area proposed for General Plan

The City of Alameda is in the process of updating its General Plan.  The current draft of the updated plan draws attention to wildlife habitat, a welcome addition.  However, it misses the largest contiguous wildlife habitat in all of Alameda – that is, the waterway on the south side of Alameda Point.  

To address this oversight, a proposal supported by stakeholders listed below has been submitted to the City recommending a policy that brings together both the habitat values and the recreational values of this area.  The proposal calls for designating the area as the Alameda Point Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area.  This area includes the deepwater ship channel, the ship harbor, the harbor extending to the mudflat and beach, and the rock walls and rocky shoreline.

This waterway hosts a complex web of life, from the creatures and vegetation living in the seabed sediment and on the rock walls and rocky shoreline, to the fish, marine mammals and birds that depend on it for food, resting, reproducing and raising offspring.  This waterway also is popular with non-motorized water sports enthusiasts.  It is unique among the open space areas of Alameda and deserves special recognition not only because of its multiple values to the community, but also because “water” is part of Alameda’s identity. Continue reading “Marine Conservation, Wildlife, and Recreation Area proposed for General Plan”