Changing stories, ballooning costs cloud VA project at Alameda Point

Every couple years there is a new story from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on why there are delays in building the veterans facilities at Alameda Point.  Meanwhile, the costs have skyrocketed from $208 million to $395 million. 

Two new stories emerged this summer, just as the VA is requesting another $128 million in the 2023 federal budget for the Alameda Point project. 

Continue reading “Changing stories, ballooning costs cloud VA project at Alameda Point”

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.

Continue reading “New infrastructure in the pipeline at Alameda Point”

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.

Continue reading “Caspian and Elegant Terns join Least Terns to nest at Alameda Point”

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”

Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point

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”

VA plans to use fuel oil for heating buildings

Using fuel oil for heating is so yesterday, yet that is exactly what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans to use for its heating system at its proposed facilities at Alameda Point.

The heating system for the VA’s medical clinic and offices, as currently proposed, will utilize a boiler system heated by fuel oil.  The VA Project Manager, Kelvin Slaton, recently confirmed that it will be installing an underground fuel oil storage tank for boilers and a backup generator.  Slaton did not respond by press time as to why the VA did not choose a solar-powered electric heat pump. Continue reading “VA plans to use fuel oil for heating buildings”

Delays of VA Project tied to Trump Administration

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”