Letters to the Editor
I’m an Alameda resident and homeowner. I’m the type of person who goes to City Council meetings, is an active member and organizer in many local community groups and stays up to date and in the know on all town gossip and news. And I am embarrassed to admit, that even I was duped by the petitioners for the “open space initiative” on the southern shore.
I don’t recall the exact wording the petitioner used, but they were telling me how there’s a project underway to get more open space in Alameda. In my mind, I was thinking it had to do with Jean Sweeney Park, so I mentioned that, and the petitioner looked puzzled. They then kept rattling on about this project. I slowly realized what this was actually about and firmly, but politely, removed myself from the discussion without signing. In hindsight, wish I had done more — stuck around to dissuade other people from signing or lectured the (likely paid) signature gatherer about what they were actually selling.
It is my opinion, when you need to pay signature gatherers to lie to people, you do not have a good petition or cause. If you have a good cause, volunteers will spread the word, and the facts speak for themselves.
These NIMBY neighbors near McKay Avenue are just out to keep “their road” theirs. They have no intention of actually turning anything into a park, and neither will the city or the East Bay Regional Parks district. Their aim is to keep the status quo, because it benefits them and their properties — not what benefits our town.
They seem willing to spend hundreds of thousands of our city’s tax dollars on a ballot initiative that will result in nothing but a delay in the proposed project that would rehabilitate abandoned buildings, and help our most vulnerable neighbors. And for what purpose?
As a neighbor to the proposed site for the Alameda Point Collaborative’s (APC) Wellness Center, I write to request that my neighbors and friends withdraw the open space ballot initiative scheduled for special election on Tuesday, April 9. The ballot initiative is costly, unnecessary and a threat to medically fragile, homeless seniors.
First, the ballot initiative is costly. The election alone will cost the city more than $500,000. If passed, the initiative will then obligate the city to spend approximately $11.7 million to renovate or demolish the existing federal buildings and create a park, plus $140,000 annually to maintain it. This taxpayer money could and should be used elsewhere.
Second, the ballot initiative is unnecessary. Alameda is already blessed with numerous parks and open spaces, and the East Bay Regional Park District has no interest in the proposed site. With Crab Cove, Crown Beach and Washington Park in the same vicinity, the adjacent parcel of land on McKay Avenue would make little difference.
Most importantly, the initiative will delay and could even prevent medically fragile seniors from receiving supportive housing and care. APC has a proven track record of caring for people experiencing homelessness, and their proposed wellness center is desperately needed given the rising cost of housing and the insecurity facing seniors in the Bay Area. Indeed, the center is a humanitarian endeavor that Alamedans should be proud to support.
In closing, my family and I live in the Park Webster Condominiums across McKay from the proposed site for the wellness center. Like our neighbors and friends, we love Crab Cove! My one-year-old and I frequent the visitor center at least once a week, and we often play along Crown Beach and the marine conservation area. Having a wellness center next door would not detract from these treasures. Instead, the APC Wellness Center would increase the number of reasons we choose to make Alameda our home.
Please, neighbors and friends, withdraw the open space ballot initiative. It presents an unneeded cost to the city, and it could prevent medically fragile seniors from receiving the housing and care they desperately need.
As faith leaders in Alameda, we wholeheartedly support Alameda Point Collaborative’s efforts to create a center on McKay Avenue that cares for homeless seniors and individuals with acute medical needs. People in need often come to our churches looking for help that we are ill-equipped to provide. The proposed center would meet a need that we have seen firsthand.
In light of some of the opposition to this project, we feel compelled to ask a challenging question as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ: Who do we want to be? What values should define our community? Do we want to be a place where the lowest common denominator determines our future? Or do we want to be an island of hope in the midst of the hopelessness that afflicts so many around us?
Island City Faith Coalition has spent the past two years praying and seeking to support solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis afflicting the Bay Area. We believe this proposal is a small but hope-filled answer to the problem. Will we let cynicism set the direction of our community? Or will we take a step forward toward making this island a place of peace and justice for all our neighbors?
Our homeless neighbors are people just like us, made in the image of God. They aren’t to be feared, isolated or ignored. They’re worthy of dignity, respect, and love. That is a message of hope and inclusion we should all want for our children and our community.