|Point Open Space Plans Put at Risk|
Published: Friday, 06 July 2012 01:20
Deadline for public comments about access looms
For the first time since the Naval Air Station closed in 1997, a feasible plan has emerged for creating and managing parkland and a bona fide wildlife refuge on the 770-acre runway area at Alameda Point ("East Bay Park District Spearheads Point Deal for NW Territories," March 8).
At its June 6 meeting city council discussed the disposition strategy for the Point and environmentalists spoke out on two issues concerning the Point's open space plans.
Two things stand in the way. The city is delaying the effort by requesting money from the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) for land the city is getting for free. The Navy plans to deny public access to a section of the wildlife refuge and scenic open space by erecting a six-foot-high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire around 110 acres on the refuge shoreline.
While the city will be getting the proposed parkland parcel on the northern part of the runway area at no cost from the Navy, EBRPD has agreed to develop and manage that land as a regional park and trail system.
The city wants the district to spend part of its $6.5 million Measure WW Alameda Point money to acquire the land from the city. The city wants the money for a sports complex. Talks between the city and the park district stalled over the money issue.
At the city council meeting, the Sierra Club submitted a letter supporting the park district's proposal and opposing the city's request for Measure WW funds as an inappropriate use of voter-approved project monies.
The Navy's fence on the wildlife refuge property, which the park district is poised to manage on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, also garnered some attention at the June 6 meeting.
The area that the Navy wants fenced in includes the most scenic part of the federal land along the edge of the bay — some 30 acres of tidal and freshwater wetlands, and a landfill that will be covered with at least two feet of clean delta soil, and seeded with native grasses and wildflowers.
In addition to the fence, the Navy plans to erect 30 10-foot-high methane gas vents. The Navy says that the fence will protect the soil cover, gas vents, and ground-level concrete and cast-iron monitoring equipment on the site.
This remedy takes "what promised to be a landmark, place-making naturalist open space and treats it like an off-limit toxic dump," said Paul Kibel, co-director of Golden Gate University's Center for Urban Environmental Law.
"What should be highlighted is hidden and degraded," Kibel said.
Richard Bangert of the Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board pointed to other former landfill repurposed for open space, trails and habitat that do not include exclusionary fencing and tall gas vents.
"This leaves us thinking that the Navy is not working in line with Alameda's and the region's long-term goals of creating a publicly accessible wildlife refuge," Bangert said.
The deadline for submitting comments to the Navy about the proposed fence is July 9. Write to Derek Robinson, Environmental Coordinator at derek.j.robinson1@ navy.mil.
Irene Dieter writings, photos, and videos can be seen on islesay.wordpress. com.