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.
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.
The City of Alameda recently disclosed that it is not going to proceed with the preparation of an environmental impact report on the Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient and columbarium project at Alameda Point, as previously announced in February.
The City hopes to instead rely on its 2014 Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report that contemplated the VA’s storm water drains. “The City of Alameda has no jurisdiction over this project approval,” said Andrew Thomas, Assistant Community Development Director. “Since it is not approving or denying the project, it does not need to do CEQA.”
A California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) impact report is required for the City to legally issue easements for the VA to lay new storm water drains across City property leading to the Oakland Estuary.
The massive aircraft hangar at the end of West Tower Avenue moved one step closer to commercial leasing last week. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) performed random radiation scanning inside the building to certify that the Navy’s cleanup of paint residue containing radium-226 was complete. The other regulatory agencies have already signed off on the radiation cleanup after the Navy performed an inch-by-inch scanning effort.
As soon as this fall, CDPH could issue a letter that would allow the city to lease the building. The nearly million-square-foot building complex (Building 5) has been unavailable to the city for leasing for more than a decade. Other buildings on the base have been leased to the city by the Navy under what’s known as the Lease in Furtherance of Conveyance agreement, which has allowed the city to sublease the buildings until transfer of ownership. Continue reading “Word on the street about Alameda Point cleanup”
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”
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.
Alameda Point is on the cusp of a new era in civilian reuse. Plans for construction of residential neighborhoods and commercial space are taking form, alongside growing productive reuse of aircraft hangars. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is poised to begin the first phase of their $240 million clinic and columbarium project. In addition, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) is studying plans for accommodating their increasing ferry ridership.