Letters to the Editor

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Editor:

I am president of the Alameda Island Aquatics (Islanders) age group swim team and I support the proposed new Harbor Bay Club (HBC) at North Loop Road. I’ve got more than 100 swimmers to keep in the water, and the HBC has a long history of helping us and other groups, such as Masters swimmers, keep swimming without requiring membership to the club.

The new club, with its additional pools that more than double the amount of current lanes, will increase its support of groups like the Islanders, and this support redounds to the benefit of all Alameda aquatics enthusiasts by reducing the competition for lanes at the Alameda High School and Encinal High School pools.

Securing swim lanes in Alameda is difficult. Despite the deeply appreciated, sustained and heroic efforts of the city of Alameda and the Alameda Unified School District, our high school pools are aging and not large enough to accommodate the entire Alameda aquatics community.

Encinal High School pool is currently closed for at least six months for rebuilding and the Alameda High School pool is not even deep enough to allow starting blocks at swim meets. Kids dive off of towels! We need HBC’s new lanes to take the load off of Alameda’s exhausted aquatics infrastructure.

Recently, the HBC stopped by the 61st Annual City of Alameda Swimming Championships held at Alameda High School’s fading yet beloved Emma Hood Swim Center to talk about their proposed new pools. The contrast between the HBC’s new pool plans and kids diving off of moldy lost and found towels instead of starting blocks was very compelling. Ninety-nine percent of the swim community at that meet was ecstatic about the prospect of the HBC’s new pools because this community understands the importance of adding brand new aquatics resources to our faltering infrastructure.

Eric Delore

Editor:

I would like to thank the Alameda Jr. Golf Program and all of its wonderful volunteers. This program is amazing! Almost every Wednesday throughout the summer they host a free golf tournament and provide scorekeepers for the kids.

They become members of Youth on the Course and can play golf at Alameda year-round for only one dollar!

The putting contest is always exciting and the tournaments are low-key and always fun for the kids. Beyond exposing them to the great game of golf, they help teach kids proper etiquette and sportsmanship.

Kids sign themselves in, speak slowly, and shake the adults’ hands. As a past participant of this program it has been fun to see my son enjoy it so much.

The other phenomenal program is the ARPD Parks & Playground drop-in program. My boys and nephews spent endless summer afternoons playing at Lincoln and Tillman parks.

The recreation leaders were engaged with the kids and provided a variety of activities for them to participate in. The newfound freedom of going to the parks and playing with friends without a parent was exhilarating for them! Thanks for providing such a great safe place for my boys to play.

Leah Pero

Editor’s note:

Harbor Bay Isle Asssociates wishes to addresss what it considers false claims made by Harbor Bay Neighbors. This is part one of three.

As developer for the Harbor Bay Isle community, and owner-operator of the Harbor Bay Club, Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) has been a local Alameda business for over 40 years.

When we first envisioned the Harbor Bay Isle Master Planned community, our mission was to create a uniquely beautiful and ideal place to live, work and play. The quality of life enjoyed by its residents and businesses today is evidence of that commitment. In continuing with that mission, we’re excited to offer a brand new Harbor Bay Club. The plan for the new club features three swimming pools, a 40,000 square foot fitness center, nine tennis courts, a new spa, expanded kids’ programs, an all-weather kids’ play field, a large poolside cafe, and much more.

To avoid any interruption of service and to help finance the new club, the proposed new club will be built at a new location within Harbor Bay on North Loop Road and the current club property at Packet Landing Road will be redeveloped. Options for redevelopment presented to the City include 80 new homes or a hotel/conference center.

Though the merits of a brand new club are undeniable to many, proposals that represent change in our community always seem to generate some negativity from some residents.

Like the original proposal for Harbor Bay Isle back in the early 1970s, and more recently the renovation projects for the Alameda Library and Alameda Theater and Cineplex, the plans for a new Harbor Bay Club have generated some push-back, false claims and fearmongering.

Soon the city of Alameda will release a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which will include studies of all potential environmental impacts of the project including traffic, transportation and safety.

HBIA welcomes constructive discussion of the findings of the EIR. In the meantime, and in an effort to clarify some erroneous and misleading claims and rumors regarding the proposal, particularly those made by Tim

Coffey and a group called Harbor Bay Neighbors (HBN) In this and the following three opinion pieces, HBIA would like to set the record straight on what we consider 10 false claims. HBIA invites anyone to call or come by our offices to learn more about the project.

1) HBIA’s plans to move the club is just a veil to build more houses

HBN cites HBIA’s history of proposing housing projects to support this false claim, referencing proposals that date back to the early 2000’s. But what HBN fails to share or acknowledge is the history of HBIA’s efforts to find a new location for the Harbor Bay Club that follow the same time line. It is true that HBIA has explored options to add more homes, as it is entitled under its development agreement with the City of Alameda.

We don’t hide behind that fact. But what is equally true is that for nearly 15 years we have known that the current location of the Harbor Bay Club is not suitable to support its long term needs. HBIA’s efforts to find a new location for the club are well documented with plans involving 6 different alternative sites dating back to 2002. The proposal to build a new club on North Loop Road achieves both of HBIA’s goals. HBN sharing only half of what is true is misleading and ignores the need for a new club.

HBN has also accused HBIA of needing to redevelop the current club property, whether 80 homes or a hotel/conference center, in order to help pay for the new club.

Yet HBIA has never claimed otherwise. Redevelopment of the current club property will in fact help finance the new club which is estimated to cost $20 million or more. By investing proceeds from the redevelopment of the current club into the new club, the debt service on the new club will be reduced which will help the club better manage member dues long-term.

2) The club cannot legally move

There is no truth to this claim.

When the city of Alameda Planning Board approved a proposed Planned Development for the Harbor Bay Club in October 1976, there were no conditions imposed on the developer that the Harbor Bay Club remain in operation at its Packet Landing Road location forever. In fact, the September 26, 1976 Planning Department Staff Report for the original Planned Development application recognized that the initial ownership and management program might not continue on a long-term basis as originally established. Further, over the years since the Club opened, when the city approved various Planned Development Amendments for revisions or expansion of the Club facilities, the city did not impose any conditions which would legally bind the Club to remain in its current location in perpetuity.

The Harbor Bay Club is a privately owned business, and from the beginning, the city acknowledged that it was a private club with membership open to all applicants without any residence specification, and while the Club was a positive amenity for the community of Harbor Bay Isle, the Club’s recreational amenities would not be available to Harbor Bay residents who choose not to purchase memberships.

3) A plan to build 80 homes will result in more traffic at current club location

This claim has no factual basis and completely ignores the traffic generated by the current club.

In our island community, traffic is often — and understandably — the first environmental concern that residents question. Based on previous studies, however, HBIA is confident that the draft EIR soon to be released will confirm that traffic will in fact improve at the current club location once it is redeveloped with 80 single family homes.

The Draft EIR will dispel soon enough the traffic claims by HBN members and others who have chosen to speculate on traffic rather than wait on the facts. In the meantime, however, we ask all residents to apply common sense in considering the following facts:

Currently, the Harbor Bay Club is open seven days a week, 17 hours a day during the week, and serves about 3,800 members plus about 10,000 non-member clients who use the club for the many services available for non-members.

Together there is an active pool of some 5,000 users who visit the current club on a regular basis; from this pool the club generates, on average, approximately 1,000 visits per day.

It does not require a traffic engineer to support the logic that this amount of people accessing the current club at the end of a cul-de-sac will create far more vehicle trips than 80 single-family homes.

In addition, over half of the club’s members and non-member clients live outside of 94502. These people will bypass Island Drive entirely and use Harbor Bay Parkway when they drive to the new club.

This will translate to a reduction in the congestion that occurs on Island Drive, Robert Davies Jr. and Packet Landing Road during peak periods.

For the approximately 40 percent of the club’s members and non-members who live on Bay Farm Island, less than 10 percent live within the club’s immediate vicinity, and just as many or more live closer to the new club than those who live closer to the current club.

As a result it’s reasonable to expect that many of these residents will also not use Island or Robert Davie Jr. drives to access the new club, further reducing congestion on those roads during peak periods.

It’s also important to correlate the expected reduction in traffic on Packet Landing Road to improved safety conditions for pedestrians, particularly children during busy drop-off and pick-up times at Amelia Earhart School.

Simply stated, the redevelopment of the current club property with 80 single family homes has the potential to significantly reduce traffic on Packet Landing Road, reduce congestion on Island Drive.

This will result in a net positive impact to the traffic pattern on Bay Farm Island that will benefit the entire community.

Harbor Bay Isle Associates

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