ALAMEDA -- People can weigh in on plans to build a health clinic and columbarium for veterans at Alameda Point during an upcoming meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Navy.
The project also calls for turning over 74 acres to the VA to provide a buffer between a colony of endangered California least terns and the clinic and columbarium. The land was initially set to go to the city.
The meeting to gather input on the draft Environmental Assessment for the project will take place from 4-7 p.m. April 10 at the Albert H. DeWitt Officers' Club, 641 West Redline Ave.
The outpatient clinic at the former Navy base will provide health care for at least 7,000 local veterans, and the columbarium could house the remains of up to 310,000 former service members.
After the base closed in 1997, the federal government proposed transferring 550 acres -- mostly former aircraft runways -- to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a wildlife refuge. But that deal fell through, which led the Navy to begin talks with the VA.
Some 112 acres will now be set aside for the clinic and columbarium, while about 511 acres will remain undeveloped and be reserved for the long-term preservation of the least terns, which nest at Alameda Point about four months each year as they migrate along the West Coast. The bird was declared an endangered species in 1974, when just about 600 pairs were believed to exist. The numbers have
The upcoming meeting follows similar hearings for the project aboard the USS Hornet museum. It also follows the City Council unanimously approving a resolution Tuesday that reaffirmed its support for a nature preserve at Alameda Point.
Supporters say the clinic will provide care for thousands of East Bay veterans, including those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that building a new cemetery is necessary because less space will be available in the future at the national cemeteries in San Francisco and San Bruno.
The VA and Navy will accept comment on the draft Environmental Assessment for the project until April 19. They can be sent to Douglas Roaldson, Environmental Program Manager, Veterans Affairs/VISN 21, 201 Walnut Ave., Room 1020, Mare Island, CA 94592-1107.
They can also be e-mailed to Alameda.EA@va.gov.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.