Point Ferry Facility Hearing on Monday

Alameda could become key water transportation hub

Richard Bangert

A public hearing is scheduled next Monday evening, Jan. 6, in San Francisco to take comments on the proposed facility for the San Francisco Bay ferries at Alameda Point. At that time, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) Design Review Board will host its first hearing to determine if the project complies with its guidelines. These include ensuring maximum public shoreline access, preserving scenic views and enhancing the shoreline visual experience through appropriate design appearance.

Located on Hornet Avenue at Ferry Point Road near the U.S.S. Hornet on a four-acre site to be leased from the City of Alameda, the facility will service and maintain ferries owned by the Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) operating in the Central Bay. The project will include a 70-foot-tall, four-story building for maintenance, dispatch, and administrative tasks, a service yard and floating berthing facilities for 12 vessels. Demolition of the old recreational dock and retaining wall, and dredging of the berthing area at the site is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014.

A variety of activities will take place at the facility, including refueling ferries from new underground fuel tanks, bilge and sewer pump-out, fluid replenishment, repair and replacement of vessel equipment, trash disposal, cleaning and painting of vessels and storage and replenishment of concessionary items for passengers.

WETA, in consultation with BCDC staff, proposes enhancements to the adjacent park area owned by the city. The proposal that BCDC is seeking comment on would realign and extend the existing Bay Trail so that it better serves as a connection to the U.S.S. Hornet Museum and the existing public access areas through the maritime ship site to the Seaplane Lagoon. Approximately 100 feet of the existing trail and path would be removed and replaced with approximately 145 feet of new 10-foot wide trail and path.

According to the BCDC staff report, "In addition, a new 17-foot-wide extension of the Bay Trail would be constructed along the 289-foot northern length of the project site along Hornet Avenue. This portion of the trail would include a two-foot-wide landscaped area adjacent to the project site, 12 new street trees in 3-foot by 6-foot tree wells adjacent to a 6-inch curb and an 11.5-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle trail. Beyond this area and through the Hornet and United States Marine Administration (MARAD) ready reserve fleet, signage would indicate the route for pedestrians and bicyclists."

According to the report, 6,850 square feet of the park would be landscaped between the realigned trail and the project site, including irrigated turf and low lush planting with a break in the landscaping provided to create windows into the work yard. Interpretive signage would describe the unique working waterfront activities. Nine trees in three clusters are proposed to better define the spatial qualities of the setting and to provide shade and visual interest.

In addition, six benches are planned along the shoreline. Opposite the benches will be an interpretive sign describing the role and function of the WETA berthing facilities.

The hearing, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be held at the State of California Building, 455 Golden Gate Ave., in the BCDC McAteer-Petris Conference Room, Suite 10600. For information contact Ellen Miramontes at (415) 352-3643 or ellenm@bcdc.ca.gov.

Alameda resident Richard Bangert writes the online Alameda Point Environmental Report.