City to Seek Wetland Park Funding

City of Alameda &nbsp&nbsp This view looks across the wetland park planned for the west side of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point. The city hopes to remove the pavement currently at the site and return it to nature.

City to Seek Wetland Park Funding

The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a master planning process.

“I am super-stoked about this project; it’s better than I ever imagined,” said Councilmember Jim Oddie, who has led recent efforts at City Hall to get action on this park. “I was really touched when I saw the drawing. I broke down in tears it was so beautiful.”

As currently envisioned, park construction will entail removing old pavement and softening the edge of the western side of the Seaplane Lagoon which will allow water into the park and become adaptable to sea level rise. A tidal channel through the park will connect the Seaplane Lagoon with the existing wetland on the federal property, thereby creating a combined wetland ecosystem with multiplied benefits.

The existing boulders that stabilize the shoreline would be removed and re-positioned to serve as habitat jetties. The existing pavement would be crushed and reused onsite to build elevated overlooks and pathways. A strip of existing concrete is envisioned as remaining to serve as a multiuse trail through the park, thereby reducing the construction impact.

The ecological park concept was approved in 2014 as part of Alameda Point’s Town Center and Waterfront Plan. The park concept was promoted in the 2019 Climate Action and Resiliency Plan for its adaptation value. And to affirm the importance of moving forward with implementation, the Recreation and Park Commission deemed DePave Park the top priority among its pending projects and subsequently approved the vision plan.

In May, to refine the vision plan, Recreation and Park Director Amy Wooldridge secured pro bono services from CMG, the architectural landscape design company that created the park concept in the Town Center and Waterfront Plan and who specializes in resiliency projects.

Environmental stakeholder groups, including the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda, San Francisco Baykeeper, and a representative from the paddling community offered input on features that would enhance wildlife habitat while encouraging public access in this sensitive ecosystem.

This park will set a new standard in that it will offset its own construction carbon footprint in four years and become a net positive carbon sequestration zone thereafter. “This will bring us international recognition as a leader in dealing with climate change,” said Oddie.

The estimated cost for this project, including the planning grant, is pegged at $15 million. The city will seek full construction grant funding from agencies that subsidize nature-based solutions to climate adaptation. The deadline for submitting the grant application to the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority for the 2020 round of regional Measure AA funding is Oct. 23.

Vice-Mayor John Knox White abstained from voting for the vision plan that serves as the basis of the grant application because he believed “no people of color or low income who are nearby were involved” in the visioning process.

Wooldridge reassured the city council that the vision plan is intended to be malleable and can be changed during the master planning process. She emphasized that an extensive list of stakeholders is included in the grant application to show the grant funders the broad outreach the city plans to embark on for the master planning process.

DePave Park will be the city’s first shoreline adaptation project and could prove to be a great model for other cities. “This is a passive park with an ecological purpose,” summarized Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft.

Richard Bangert posts stories and photos about Alameda Point environmental issues on his blog Alameda Point Environmental Report