Click photo to enlarge
Islandopoly Plaza supporters Andrew Edgar, left, Hope Hackett and Brian Oakchunas meet at Alameda Point on Aug. 3 to discuss the project. Photo by Janet Levaux/Bay Area News Group

ALAMEDA -- As Alameda Point's recently approved Waterfront Town Center plans begin to take shape, much attention will focus on the Seaplane Lagoon area near the USS Hornet.

It's set to turn into a hub for entertainment, recreation, transportation, shopping and more.

What exactly will a public plaza by the lagoon look like, and how can the community get involved with its development?

Alameda resident and landscape artist Amanda Shepard seems to have come up with a creative answer to both questions: Islandopoly.

"It's a plaza. It's a playground. It's a community art project. It's a destination! At 200-feet-by-200-feet square, it will easily be the largest Monopoly-inspired board on the planet," Shepard explained on her Kickstarter fundraising web page. "The proposed site is located at the northeast corner of Seaplane Lagoon ... This plaza could be the heart of the entire development, a place for congregation, relaxation and especially a place for joy!"

Shepard and her supporters think a Monopoly-like design concept for the public space could mix well with Alameda's history and personality. Judith Lynch, a former member of the city's Historic Advisor Board, came up with its name.


Advertisement

"Monopoly is a classic old-timey game, and it fits well for a classic old-timey town," said Hope Hackett, an Alameda resident. "Alameda Point is an amazing piece of urban land, and we want it to reflect Alameda values, not become another outlet center or mall."

The site for a future public plaza is currently surrounded by a chain-link fence, but could turn into the "social heart" of the entire Seaplane Lagoon development, according to Shepard.

"To attract people to a social hub, we want to celebrate Alameda's cultural identity and have the community define that," she said. "This could include history at that site -- pieces that recall the city's four railroad routes, the U.S. Navy's presence, the different architectural elements, diverse transportation, Neptune Beach activities like boxing and more."

Making Islandopoly Plaza a real place involves commissioning artists to create sculptures at the plaza and getting furniture makers to design and build colorful seating areas. Community members also might want food trucks to come out and park around the board-shaped public space.

Before all these concrete steps are taken, though, Alamedans need to come together and map out what they want the plaza to be -- in chalk.

"We could craft a Monopoly board out there," she said, "and see what the plaza ideas look like to scale."

Shephard has proposed this chalk-art event for the spring of 2015 and aims to raise $1,500 by Aug. 18 to pay for supplies and other costs.

"I really want to bring the chalk plan to life because of the positive support I've received," she said.

"I saw Amanda's presentation. It's a very creative idea to attract people to a fun park with activities at Alameda Point, even before new businesses are located there," said Dennis Owens, an architect who chairs the Historic Advisory Board. "The initial step of drawing Islandopoly Plaza in chalk would certainly draw attention to Alameda Point. By doing so, she hopes to get support for a more permanent project."

The landscape-architecture student said more than two dozen community members are working with her to turn the idea into reality such as Alameda resident Donna Fong.

"I talk about Islandopoly with friends, and we all tell other people about it," Shepard said. "They get really interested, so I've been trying to organize the chalk event and spread the work on project updates."

A lot of collaboration is needed, she said, to come up with names for each of the property spaces on the Islandopoly Plaza board, which could include streets like Park and Webster or avenues such as Atlantic and Central. There could also be elements representing Alameda icons such as the USS Hornet and a water fountain or faucet to represent the traditional utility-themed parts of the board game as well as the nearby San Francisco Bay and Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

"It's about creating something fun on a grand scale, where people can go to experience something unique on a beautiful piece of waterfront land," said Brian Oakchunas, an Alameda resident. "As a kid in Pennsylvania, I used to go to a park and play on an old-fashioned fire truck. It's just so great to be in a place that has novelty value."

Making a chalk drawing of what the proposed Islandopoly Plaza could look like is a great way to have residents shape the future of Alameda Point, another supporter said.

"You don't have to work very hard to brainstorm and to come up with great ideas that play off Alameda and the community," Andrew Edgar said. "There's so much here already. We just want to get people more involved."

Over time, Islandopoly could turn into more than a plaza, maybe "a working museum, exhibit and educational space, where people gather and can draw chalk art, too," Shepard said. "But that's way down the road. First, we need to do a full-scale mock up and get more community members excited about it."

FYI
To see information on supporting Islandopoly, go to www.Kickstarter.com and search for "Alameda Point."