Monday, May 14, 2007

Alameda Point - What's Up With That?

Alameda Point is one of the more accessible and popular night photography locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The former Alameda Naval Air Station was turned over to the city of Alameda in 1997. With the exception of the airstrip, most of the 700-acre parcel is open to the public. It contains a mixture of housing, warehouses, abandoned hangers, a sports club, the D.O.T. Ready Reserve Force, and even the decommissioned aircraft carrier the USS Hornet. It is also the site where Adam and Jamie from the TV show Mythbusters perform many of their experiments.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Whenever I shoot at Alameda Point, I always wonder why it's still around (not that I'm complaining, or anything... I'm just wondering about this). The land is worth a mint, and I know the city of Alameda has plans to develop the waterfront and build shops, hotels, restaurants and marina. But why isn't the development moving forward?

Yesterday, the San Jose Mercury News ran a great article titled "Disputes, snags mark decade since base closure" explaining the history of the transfer of the land from the Navy to the city, along with all of the problems along the way. It's actually quite interesting because the problems stem from a change in presidential administrations; the city breaking their contract with the Navy; and the always-in-the-news cost of toxic waste cleanup.

Hopefully, Alameda Point will be around for a few more years.


Blogger Tim Baskerville said...

Similarities between Alameda and Mare Island abound.

Mare was originally an island (now a sometimes-peninsula), and Alameda was once a peninsula - until a channel was dredged out to make it an island!

Much of Mare Island is still in a state of 'early transfer' - again, 10+ years after shipyard closure. The economic downturn after the dot-com bust and a sluggish housing market have left new development at a standstill, more or less. Most of the work being done now is on the failing infrastructure of Mare Island - remember that MI has almost one hundred years (est. 1855) on Alameda - so the changes are much-needed if we are to move on from here. There is a National Historic District on Mare Island (some 500 structures built between 1854 and 1945) many of which need to be spared the wrecking ball. One of the developers slated in this new plan for Alameda - Lennar - is the primary developer for Mare Island (they are also involved in the Hunters Point conversion and I think Treasure Island, as well).

Optimistic plans for both islands call for vibrant Waterfront development, open space, mixed-use, but here on Mare Island (probably Alameda, too), the toxic clean-up, potential tax base issues, and local land-grab conflicts by well-meaning non-profits and environmental groups have stymied the process. There is just so much that needs to be done . . . Even the Welcome Center, here on Mare Island (where we filmed the Harper interview) was not immune - staff is now down to one; open only Thursday-Sunday.

Of course this is not exactly new territory, I'm sure all the base conversion sites (and to a lesser degree, the Presidio) are experiencing the same growth pangs.

We really need to pay attention . . .

7:53 PM  

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