An article may have implied that the East Bay Regional Park District has been replacing sand on Crown Beach in Alameda every few years because of erosion and other factors. The district has not replaced sand there for 25 years, except for one storm event in the 1990s, district officials said. Also, the amount of funding for the sand restoration project from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was incorrect. The correct amount is $725,000.
ALAMEDA -- Preliminary work on the restoration of Alameda's beach will get under way in the next week or so, a group of interested beach users learned last week.
Officials of the East Bay Regional Park District, which manages the beach for the state, and the City of Alameda gave a preview of the project Saturday at the Crab Cove Visitors Center as a sort of public kickoff to the work.
At more than 2 miles, it's the longest artificial beach in the Bay Area. But because it has no river or other sources to replenish it, sand must be replaced every few years to offset natural erosion and loss of beach because of major storms.
More than 82,000 square feet of new sand will be transported to Alameda and pumped through 14-inch plastic pipes from an offshore barge and poured onto the beach itself. Portions of the beach will be closed 1,000 feet at a time until the work is completed by the end of November.
Sand may not seem like a valuable commodity, but the total price tag for the project exceeds $5.6 million. Funding will come from a variety of state and federal sources, including $2.8 million in the park district's own reserve funds because the project's cost came in well over original estimates, said Park District director Doug Siden of Alameda.
"Sand is expensive," he said. "There's not too many places you can get it, so it's not competitive in that sense."
Though it would be cheaper to truck the sand to the beach, the park district board chose the more expensive barge method to avoid creating excessive truck traffic on nearby Shoreline Drive, Siden said.
Dipping into the park district's reserve fund to finance the restoration is proof of the district's commitment to the beach and Alameda but directors will have to consider how to finance this kind of work in the future, Siden said.
In addition to state and federal funds, the district is also getting $100,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offset sand loss caused by a big story in 2004-2005 and damage to area beaches because caused by the 2009 Dubai Star oil tanker spill, officials said.
Though a beach existed in many forms over the years, the large beach we see today was created in 1987 when the EBRPD deposited 400,000 cubic feet of sand. Plants were brought in to help keep down erosion but sand is lost to wave action and storms, said Diane Althoff, EBRPD chief of design and construction.
Waves move the sand toward Crab Cove almost the way a conveyor belt moves products, so maintenance workers must redistribute it from time to time.
"It's a dynamic beach, constantly changing, "she said. "As long as we have a sand budget, we can maintain it."
Because work is being done during the fall, the project won't endanger birds and other wildlife that call the beach home, Althoff said.
Care will be taken to safeguard other environments in San Francisco Bay, including underwater grasses, according to Althoff.
"We just have to be mindful that we don't disturb the eel grass," she said.