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”
On August 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a services contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an existing wetland on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at Alameda Point. The wetland project is being implemented to offset impacts to wetland areas elsewhere on the VA property where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will be built.
“The four-year services contract, valued at up to $2,373,044, includes development, seed collection, propagation, restoration, and enhancement to ensure the wetland is completely established as a self-sustaining tidal marsh at the VA Alameda Point site,” states the Corps of Engineers August 14 news release. “In total, 8 acres of new tidal marsh will be installed and established, as will 3.3 acres of tidal transitional habitat; and 14.8 acres of existing tidal wetland will be enhanced.” Seed collection and preparation is scheduled to start this summer. The work is expected to be completed in 2025.
One-third of the wetland impacts of the VA project will not be offset at Alameda Point. The Corps of Engineers will purchase credits in the San Francisco Bay Wetland Mitigation Bank for 3.6 acres of impacts. The mitigation bank manages a wetland restoration project in Redwood City funded by Bay Area projects that impact wetlands. The credit purchase detail is not mentioned in the news release. Continue reading “Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point”
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”
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”
A legacy of disappointment continues on the aircraft runway area at Alameda Point. In the nearly 20 years since the Navy ended operations there, the community has lost 74 acres of open space that was once slated to become city property. The community has also lost the possibility for a 550-acre national wildlife refuge and a state-of-the-art community hospital to be run jointly with Alameda Healthcare District to serve veterans and non-veterans.
There is still no groundbreaking scheduled for the veterans’ clinic and columbarium.
The only recent expenditures on the 624 acres of federal property, now owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), have been to fund landscaping over an underground dump and the management of the endangered least terns that nest on 10 acres, which includes the widespread application of herbicides and vegetation removal on 300 acres of pavement at the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has still not received its 2016 budget allocation of $70 million to build new facilities at Alameda Point, nine months after the federal budget was signed into law on December 18, 2015. Efforts in the House and Senate to authorize getting the VA’s money released were hindered in July when Senate Republicans attached a bill to fund stopping the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus to the VA construction bill.
The Zika bill included restrictions that do not allow the use of Zika funds at Planned Parenthood clinics and a waiver on following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for pesticide spraying to kill mosquitoes. Senate Democrats prevented passage of the Zika/VA bill by voting against it, due to the Planned Parenthood and EPA clauses. Both parties are pointing fingers.