ALAMEDA -- Pan American China Clipper flying boats would set off for the Pacific and U.S. Navy seaplanes once taxied ashore where city officials hope to create a "town center" along San Francisco Bay.

But some residents want to make sure the former Alameda Naval Air Station's rich history will be reflected in the parks, ferry terminal and other amenities now recommended for its future.

"We need to honor what we have out there," Nancy Hurd of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society said Monday as the Planning Board gathered public input on the proposals.

Along with a ferry terminal, the proposals include spots for boaters and kayakers, a public plaza and possibly a landmark building or structure near the waterfront, where access would be limited to pedestrians and cyclists.

"Nobody should take this as a plan," Planning Board member John Knox White said, noting the proposals are just concepts to help guide redevelopment.

Among the historic buildings in the area is the former Air Terminal, which now houses the Alameda Naval Air Museum. A "crow's nest" tops the building and offers a sweeping view of the San Francisco skyline, which Hurd said would be blocked unless limits were placed on the height of any future buildings nearby.

Board member Lorre Zupan said she would support a height limit near the museum. But she also said a high density mix of homes and retail is proposed for the area as a way to curb traffic and promote public transport. Other proposals for the future town center include realigning West Atlantic Avenue west of its intersection with Main Street so that it offers a direct connection between the waterfront and the Webster Street business district, and for the new ferry terminal to be located at the eastern edge of what's known as the Seaplane Lagoon.

During this summer's America's Cup, Artemis Racing of Sweden and Italy's Luna Rossa used the lagoon for access to the bay.

The sailing race could again take place on the bay when the cup is challenged in the next few years, Chris Seiwald of the city's America's Cup Ad Hoc Committee told the board Monday.

"If that is to happen, we will need some sort of space," Seiwald said.

Other speakers urged the board to have maritime uses anchor the area's redevelopment, and for more work to be done to ease traffic in the city's West End as more people begin living and working at Alameda Point.

The town center neighborhood is generally bordered by Main Street, the waterfront near the Seaplane Lagoon, and the former aircraft taxiways near the air museum and the Bladium Sports & Fitness Club.

Efforts to create the town center are considered a key step toward transforming the former Navy base, especially since it will be among the first redeveloped and so will help jump-start change in other areas, according to city officials.

Urban design consultants Skidmore, Owings & Merrill helped craft the recommendations, which are expected to be revised as city officials gather more public input over the next several months.

The Alameda Naval Air Station closed in April 1997. In June, the city took ownership of about 1,400 acres of the site through a no-cost conveyance agreement with the Navy. The agreement, the first phase of the base's overall transfer, provided the city with about 500 acres of land and nearly 900 acres beneath San Francisco Bay.

The complete transfer of Alameda Point is projected to be completed by 2019.

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654. Follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.

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