Bay Restoration Agency Denies Funding for DePave Park

Political favoritism may have affected the decision.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has denied the city’s request for a planning grant for DePave Park at Alameda Point (City to Seek Funding for Wetland Park at Alameda Point, Sept. 24, 2020).  This ecological wetland park is proposed for the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon.  The rejection letter and the agency’s ranking of applicants raise questions of fairness in awarding grants.

The Alameda City Council did not help matters when it rejected calls to include funds for a DePave Park master plan in the recently-adopted two-year budget.

In the recent round of grant awards from the Restoration Authority, Alameda’s request for $1.165 million for DePave Park planning was denied, while the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) was awarded $500,000 for designing the Hayward Marsh Restoration Project.  Whether or not a 2016 campaign contribution from EBRPD to the Restoration Authority’s ballot Measure AA gave them a bump in the rankings is unclear.  But the optics are not good.

Continue reading “Bay Restoration Agency Denies Funding for DePave Park”

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”

City to seek funding for wetland park at Alameda Point

The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality.  On Sept. 15, 2020, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a master planning process.

“I am super-stoked about this project; it’s better than I ever imagined,” said Councilmember Jim Oddie, who has led recent efforts at City Hall to get action on this park.  “I was really touched when I saw the drawing.  I broke down in tears it was so beautiful.”

As currently envisioned, park construction will entail removing old pavement and softening the edge of the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon which will allow water into the park and become adaptable to sea level rise.  A tidal channel through the park will connect the Seaplane Lagoon with the existing wetland on the federal property, thereby creating a combined wetland ecosystem with multiplied benefits. Continue reading “City to seek funding for wetland park at Alameda Point”

City misses chance to embrace wetlands at Alameda Point

The city and its consultant recently released a report outlining what will be included in the new climate action plan for Alameda.  What it reveals, unfortunately, is their resistance to thinking big.

The process for updating Alameda’s climate action plan began as a promising effort for a comprehensive look at what it means to adapt our entire environment to climate change.  It is winding up with a narrow focus on protecting local real estate, which they refer to as “vulnerable assets.”

The city has rejected a broader scope of action that would include “opportunity assets,” as in opportunities to improve the natural environment, not just the built environment.  Areas at Alameda Point not slated for development must be viewed as an opportunity asset that can be re-purposed for the good of the environment. Continue reading “City misses chance to embrace wetlands at Alameda Point”

Regional park district and city negotiate land deal for park

On July 28, representatives of the city and the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), along with members of the public, toured the future site of a regional park on the former Navy runway area at Alameda Point.  The 158-acre area runs along the Oakland Estuary out to the western shoreline with its sweeping views of San Francisco Bay out to the Golden Gate Bridge.

View from the proposed regional park on May 11, 2017, during Restoration Advisory Board tour.

Bob Nisbet, assistant general manager of EBRPD, and Jennifer Ott, base reuse manager for the city, explained that the city and park district are working on a joint agreement called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow EBRPD to build and operate the park.  The land is being transferred from the Navy to the city in phases as environmental remediation is completed.  Following the final land transfer in about four years, the city would then lease the land to EBRPD for 66 years, the maximum allowable under state law for tidelands along state waterways. Continue reading “Regional park district and city negotiate land deal for park”

Navy adds a wetland and grassland

The Navy’s cleanup program has not only removed toxic substances from below ground, it has dramatically improved some of the above ground environment by creating new native grassland and wetlands. January rains filled the Navy’s new seasonal wetland on the northwest shoreline corner of Alameda Point and fostered growth of newly planted native grass seed on the surrounding soil.

New Site 1 wetland on January 13, 2016, with San Francisco in background. Rows in soil with emerging growth were created during sowing of seeds. Navy photo.
New Site 1 wetland on January 13, 2016, with San Francisco in background. Rows in soil with emerging growth were created during sowing of seeds. Navy photo.

The 2.25-acre wetland lies within an approximately 37-acre shoreline cleanup area known as Site 1 at the confluence of the Oakland Estuary and San Francisco Bay. It is where the Navy buried its waste between 1943 and 1956. Most of the waste pits were covered by pavement in the mid-1950s when a new runway was added. Continue reading “Navy adds a wetland and grassland”

Wetland park plan at Seaplane Lagoon gets a boost

It’s more likely a new wetland will be created on the western shoreline of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, thanks to lobbying efforts led by the Sierra Club.

Sierra Club in Alameda's 4th of July Parade 2014
Sierra Club in Alameda’s 4th of July Parade 2014

On July 1, 2014, the Alameda City Council added language to the Alameda Point Town Center and Waterfront Specific Plan that raises the commitment to remove pavement from the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon for wetland—an area called De-Pave Park.  Lobbying efforts convinced the council to include the following options to help facilitate the wetland park creation:  1) creating a wetland mitigation bank; 2) adding the area to a possible national wildlife refuge on the federal property; and 3) working with local community members who may identify funding sources for creating the passive park area. Continue reading “Wetland park plan at Seaplane Lagoon gets a boost”