Economic development has always dominated the discussion about Alameda Point. Whether it's the economic engine of thousands of homes or the economic engine of thousands of jobs, it's the economic benefits to our city through building construction and adaptive reuse that have thus far driven the conversation.
Almost every type of construction that has ever been discussed for Alameda Point could, in theory, be built somewhere else. But there is no "somewhere else" on San Francisco Bay that affords opportunities for adding so many outdoor activities, including quiet solitude, as Alameda Point. Other communities have better transit options and better highway access. There are no other communities on San Francisco Bay with so much open space, surrounded by water, just waiting for plans and funding for open space uses as at Alameda Point.
Paucity of plans
We're on year 19 since base closure was announced, and no viable economic development construction plans have emerged for the 220-acre Northwest Territories along the Oakland Estuary. The Northwest Territories and the wildlife refuge both have exactly the same terrain - runways, taxiways, tarmac, frontage road, grasslands, and wetlands.
Open space - a community and economic asset
It's time to include our open space assets at Alameda Point in future planning. Besides all the open space in the runway area, we should also include Enterprise Park near the USS Hornet, offering many opportunities for sports and outdoor recreation. Plans have always called for this parkland to be part of East Bay Regional Park District's system.
The city is embarking on an 18-to-24-month planning and entitlement process for the mixed-use area where housing and businesses will be located. However, there is no comprehensive planning process currently underway for all of the open space in the runway area - half the land area of Alameda Point - or Enterprise Park. The draft, city-wide Park Master Plan does not cover the runway area. Lacking in the overall Alameda Point planning process is a vision that incorporates the open space assets into the overall goals.
The benefits of public open space recreational access go beyond just individual enjoyment. A landmark open space park system would add greatly to the attractiveness of Alameda Point for investors. It would add to the economic development effort we have been so heavily focused on. It's time for a concurrent planning track for the untapped asset at Alameda Point: Open space.
The accompanying video offers a glimpse of that open space.
More stories about open space, as well as photos and videos, are on Alameda Point Environmental Report.