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”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Around 50 people took part in the first city-sponsored tour across the old naval airfield to the western shoreline of San Francisco Bay on Monday, Oct. 26.
The convoy of automobiles stopped near the future site of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic and at the shoreline next to a restored 30-acre wetland site. The wetlands are located within the Navy’s 100-acre cleanup site known as Site 2.
While Site 2 has been known for the past 18 years as a mysterious off-limits environmental cleanup site, most of the visitors on Monday’s tour seemed more interested in the area as a scenic viewing site.
Despite the sparse showing of birds on the wetland during the visit, the group appeared awed by the vast expanse of land, water and sky that surrounded them as they stood on the embankment overlooking the wetland and the Bay.
A future leg of the San Francisco Bay Trail will eventually pass between the wetland and the shoreline, with views all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day. The state’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission requires the VA, via its shoreline authority, to grant an easement to the city for construction and operation of the trail. No date has been set for when this process will begin.
During the stop near to the future VA clinic site, Jennifer Ott, the city’s chief operating officer for Alameda Point, informed the group about the public roadway, including underground utilities, that the VA is going construct leading to the western shoreline. The roadway will provide public access and utility hook-ups for city-owned open space property along the Oakland Estuary. The group parked at the western shoreline where the future observation point and trail access parking lot will be located at the end of the road.
The tour was arranged at the urging of Vice-Mayor Frank Matarrese. Also in attendance was Mayor Trish Spencer.
“The VA’s future home and the wetlands restoration area at Site 2 are key features of the old airfield surrounding the least tern nesting area,” said Matarrese. “It is absolutely important that people get a chance to see how these three assets work together in this huge tract of land.”
The Navy still retains some responsibilities at Site 2 — namely, for ensuring that the grassland vegetation on the landfill soil cover is successful.
“Seeing the wetlands makes me want to accelerate our wetlands efforts on city property,” said Matarrese.
Alameda’s nesting colony of endangered California Least Terns has a new government landlord – and a secure home for the future. After years of negotiations, the U.S. Navy transferred 624 acres of its former airfield at Alameda Point to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Monday, November 3.
The transfer includes the former airstrip that was adopted by Least Terns for nesting in the 1970s and that has become the most productive breeding site in California for that species. More than 500 acres – including the area used by the terns – will be preserved as a wildlife reserve.Continue reading “Endangered Alameda least terns get a secure home”