The drawing and images for the so-called "De-Pave Park" on the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon would be something to cheer about if the park had any chance of ever being created. The text of the city's recently released draft town center and waterfront plan, however, allows existing industrial buildings along the western edge of De-Pave Park to remain "if needed."
Such a caveat sets the framework for never moving forward with the plans. If the buildings are being leased, the buildings will be "needed." If the buildings are needed, then the pavement around them will also be needed. The city is continuing to market these buildings to tenants and, thus, there's not likely to come a day when we try to secure grant money to develop the park.
This is a change from the first presentation of De-Pave Park in 2013 when the town center and waterfront plan was rolled out. The existing structures were not shown in that drawing. The community was led to believe that all structures would be removed to provide a natural wetland-oriented transition to the existing runway wetland on federal property. Not so anymore. The structures can stay.
The infrastructure plan now has a levee protecting the 55-foot tall "Building 25" from sea level rise. There would be no reason to protect this eyesore if it was slated for permanent removal. Furthermore, the building is part of the mixed-use commercial and residential waterfront zone where even a hotel is permitted.
The plan's photo collage showing campers, hikers and grasslands does not include a view to the west and with good reason. It would show the industrial legacy that will interrupt the potentially expansive views toward the west. It's deceptive advertising.
Parks, as we've learned during the new zoning designations for Alameda Point, are zoned open space. This "park" is not zoned open space. It's another indication that the so-called "De-Pave Park" is phony.
Changing the western shoreline of the Seaplane Lagoon to a wetland-grassland landscape connected to the runway wetland would implement climate change adaptation goals and carbon sequestration goals. Without a commitment by the city to implement De-Pave Park in the town center and waterfront plan -- including removal of all buildings on the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon -- a great opportunity to help rebalance the San Francisco Bay ecosystem will fall through the loopholes.
City Hall is requesting comments on the draft plans for the town center and waterfront plan by May 15, in preparation for a June 9 Planning Board meeting. The plan will be the guiding document on how, where and what gets built around the Seaplane Lagoon. The City Council is expected to approve the plan in July. Comments can be submitted to City Planner Andrew Thomas at email@example.com for forwarding to the Planning Board.
Richard Bangert writes the online Alameda Point Environmental Report.