The Alamedan: Council supports proposal to shift veterans project, March 6, 2013


Alameda’s City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday to support the U.S. Navy’s plan to give 74 acres it had promised to the city to the Department of Veterans Affairs instead, in an effort to move its proposed clinic and columbarium at Alameda Point away from a prime nesting spot for the endangered California Least Tern. The land the VA now hopes to occupy had been slated for park use.

In addition to signing off on a letter of support for the change, the council approved a nonbinding term sheet with the VA that city staff said would serve as a “road map” for working together to develop an access road and utilities as both entities redevelop their respective portions of the former naval air station.

Councilman Stewart Chen and Councilwoman Lena Tam voted against moving forward with the letter and term sheet, saying they thought it was too early for the council to sign off on them. Tam said she wanted to wait until after a pair of March 14 hearings on the potential impacts of the proposed VA development have been held, while Chen asked the council to wait until March 19, when they are slated to discuss a resolution he and Councilman Tony Daysog sponsored offering support for a wildlife refuge.

But Daysog and Vice Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said they thought they owed it to local veterans to offer their support for the change; the development is expected to consolidate medical and benefits services for thousands of area veterans. Mayor Marie Gilmore, who noted the land transfer would go through whether the city agrees or not, also supported moving forward.