East Bay Express: A New Vision for Alameda Point, May 23, 2012
Since 2006, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has been planning to build a massive new complex on the northwest edge of Alameda Point, featuring an outpatient clinic, a national cemetery, and a conservation management office. And six years of complex negotiations with the City of Alameda, the US Navy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are moving toward an endgame. But the talks have been environmentally sensitive because the seven hundred acres of former Naval Air Station land in question contain thriving wetlands and are home to one of the most important nesting sites of the endangered California Least Tern.
The Navy and Veterans Affairs are anxious to present a final plan to the public, but critics are raising questions about the closed-door nature of the negotiations, the thoroughness of the environmental assessment, and, most critically, about the overall suitability of building a 150,000-square-foot facility at that site.
The Center on Urban Environmental Law at Golden Gate University School of Law, which monitors the intersection of urban spaces and ecosystems, and offers guidance to government agencies in locating factories, roads, and parks, is concerned that the joint Navy/VA proposal is missing out on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a world-class park in the East Bay. As such, the environmental group is offering an alternative vision, a design that locates the VA facility in a different part of Alameda Point and creates a shoreline wetlands park surrounded on three sides by the bay, offering unencumbered views of the San Francisco skyline. The Center on Urban Environmental Law also contends that a new park will drive up property values and have a long-term positive economic impact on the East Bay.