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Alameda Point Memories

Appreciating the many great advantages of Alameda, and hoping to be allowed to have public use of the runway area of Alameda Point.

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?

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Richard Bangert September 12, 2012 at 07:50 PM
"How can Alamedans and the City Government get together and figure this out to everyone's benefit?" I have been asking that question for years, and it is only now becoming painfully clear just how much our city government wants to prevent us from being involved in any open space discussion. Right now, for example, the city, in concert with the park district, the Navy, the VA, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Audubon Society, and the Sierra Club, is preparing to allow the evisceration of the wildlife refuge plan. Everything is happening behind closed doors, even though it is public land that will be owned and/or managed by public agencies. When various individuals and officials are approached about what is going on, the reply is, "The negotiations are sensitive." This is code for, "If the public got wind of this, they would be appalled." Here is one aspect that the insiders are hoping you only find out after the deal is done: Roughly 300 acres of tarmac, taxiway, and runway on the area formerly designated as wildlife refuge will now be used for emergency preparedness training and reserved as a staging area in the event of a natural disaster. Instead of turning this into natural habitat for birds, insects, and small rodents (which would provide a more desirable food choice for hawks than the least terns), it is going to be sterilized with herbicides to keep the "weeds" down. Or, they may just grind out the "weeds" and fill in the pavement cracks with tar.
Adrian Blakey September 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Why don't we all just go out there one weekend and move the fences to one side and go and enjoy the space?

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