Council to pressure federal government on park expansion

Concerts at the CoveIt’s been a long time coming.  At its upcoming February 17 meeting, the new city council will consider adopting a resolution in support of using the surplus federal property by Crab Cove for park and open space purposes.

The resolution urges the federal General Services Administration (GSA) to negotiate a low or no-cost sale to the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) or the state and to end its eminent domain action on state-owned McKay Avenue.

If adopted, our city will officially join the efforts of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, EBRPD, the state Attorney General, a coalition of 11 environmental organizations, and the Alameda-based advocacy group Friends of Crown Beach in sending a united message to the feds about what is the highest and best use for the surplus property.

Until now, our state and federal representatives have been reluctant to get involved without a green light from city officials. The city council’s resolution would be forwarded to them, asking for their support. It would also be sent to the GSA.   In addition, Alameda’s Washington D.C. lobbyist, Akerman, LLP, will work to engage our legislative representatives in support of the EBRPD’s plan for Crab Cove.

This council’s resolution comes on the heels of the council expressing support for these strategies and voting to establish a liaison committee with EBRPD to better coordinate efforts to expand parklands in Alameda. The composition of the committee will also be determined on February 17.

Recent actions by the GSA, meanwhile, are sending mixed messages about its willingness to negotiate a deal with EBRPD.

The GSA continues to pursue eminent domain, and in December amended its complaint to include missing statutes. The state Attorney General and EBRPD have responded, continuing to argue there is neither a legal basis nor public necessity for the taking of McKay Avenue.

GSA surplus property on McKay Ave. AlamedaSoon thereafter, the GSA posted a notice announcing to all federal agencies the availability of the surplus land for short-term use (four years) or long-term transfer. If there are no takers by March, presumably the GSA will then offer it to state agencies as per federal surplus land disposal guidelines. Then again, it could become a federal storage lot.

There’s hardly a doubt about whether the resolution will be adopted, at least in some form. It will send a strong message to the feds about the wishes of the local community. The question is whether the GSA cares.

The pressure is on.

Originally published in the Alameda Sun.

*****EBRPD conceptual plan - GSA surplus property Alameda

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