One of my favorite places in Alameda is Memory Lane. It began at Washington Park at the beach just at the bottom of the stairs, with a picnic provided by my grandma, brand new beach towels, a bucket and big sun hat. I walked toward the water, trying to ignore the tiny pieces of mud squishing between my toes, but kept going in order to dip my feet in the little waves. By the time I got my feet wet, I looked back at my grandma, but could only assume that the little pink dot on the steps was her. I think now that I must have been an eighth of a mile away, but a beach is a beach to a kid.
Another memorable frequent activity was riding from East to West on Central Avenue or Santa Clara. The tree-lined streets were always welcoming when returning home from the suburbs. That was in the '50s. In 2012, we still have the reassuring shaded avenues, the great parks and even more athletic fields.
When the Naval Air Station closed in 1996, some of us were very sad for many reasons. We would miss the military families; their patronage to our Alameda businesses, and, oh yeah, the tax revenue. But after I grieved for what had passed, I started driving all the way to the Main Gate of NAS, delighted to be welcome aboard in that I'd rarely been allowed inside: and exploring the area where my grandfather and father had made a decent living and had many friends. Pretty soon I went there two to four times a week -- bringing my German Shepherd to walk and run in open areas; using her path as a work-out for us; and bringing my grandson to the skate park. But the most exciting trip was going into the runway area and driving to the end for a picnic. I brought my disabled Grandma there many times in the warm weather, where we all cooled off and had snacks -- taking beautiful pictures as well.
Things have now changed greatly. The privilege of wandering out to the runway is gone, due to fencing, fencing and more fencing. Everywhere you go presents fencing to prevent through traffic. I have a suspicion that the many insurance companies for the city, EBRP, the State and those leasing businesses there have required much of this fencing for risk management purposes. It's frustrating knowing that the breathtaking views from the old runways are denied the citizens of this city, who for so long respected the privacy of the 'federal uses,' are now unable to take advantage of the premier open space. How can Alamedans and the City Government get together and figure this out to everyone's benefit?