Sometimes you think you’ve hit on a winning deal, but once you look closer you find out otherwise. That’s what I’ve come to realize about the site currently being proposed for the veterans’ clinic.
I originally got excited when I learned there had been a collaborative effort among the Navy, VA, US Fish & Wildlife Service, East Bay Regional Park District and the city in choosing the Northwest Territories as the Alameda Point location where the VA clinic would be built. Serving our veterans is a shared value we all hold dear. Now I have second thoughts about the site that was selected. A superior alternative site is available.
The parcel near the USS Hornet—formerly offered to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for its second campus—is the perfect site for the VA’s clinic and administrative offices. The 45-acre waterfront property, zoned commercial, is ready for expedited development because the environmental assessment document has already been prepared.
While some are saying we shouldn’t entertain another location because the process is too far along, I say it’s not too late for another set of drawings. If the VA learns about the benefits of the Lab site, including being closer to retail and transit, they too would find that it’s a better use of taxpayer dollars for construction costs and delivery of services.
As the city so aptly put it when we offered the site to the lab, it’s the “right site” for sustainable development. It “promotes alternative transportation strategies,” “open spaces are preserved and restored,” and because the parcel sits higher than the rest of the Point, its “infrastructure anticipates climate change” and “incorporates best practice storm water management principles.” It’s the spot the city identified to begin its first phase of development at the Point.
Easily accessible and overlooking the docks with views of San Francisco, I can’t think of a place more fitting and convenient for our veterans. It’s near the historic USS Hornet, Naval Air Museum, Seaplane Lagoon, Enterprise Park and the Bay Trail. There’s even room for expansion!
This is not to say that the VA’s columbarium couldn’t still be built on Alameda Point’s runway area. A quiet, beautiful place (near the future passive park on the northwestern shoreline and wetlands) where families can reflect and relax is compatible with the natural environment. Plus, a columbarium would not mar the view shed or create the daily traffic a bustling clinic and offices would.
From those who support naturalist land uses and public waterfront access to those who want a thriving mixed-use area, building the VA clinic at the lab site matches the goals of the community and promises a strong return on everyone’s investment.
The city should take the lead in putting forward a new collaborative effort that preserves our open space while serving our veterans. Now that’s a winning deal!
Originally published in Alameda Sun