Voter Cannot Support Wellness Center’s Location

 

Although I am not a native-born Alamedan, I have resided here for 35 years and I am against the location of the wellness center on McKay Avenue. 

The wellness center needs a more accessible geographical site like Emeryville, Oakland or Berkeley as the facility will accommodate a very small percentage of Alameda’s own homeless seniors who are afflicted. Remember Alameda Hospital already serves the entire county, including patients transferred from Oakland’s Highland Hospital. Alameda home- and property owners sustain Alameda Hospital by paying $300 a year in parcel taxes, so we are already “caring” citizens.

McKay Avenue is not a safe site for the wellness center in my opinion. It is a dead-end street, so not easily navigable for ambulances and firetrucks. In the event of fire or earthquake, I’m concerned wellness center patients will be vulnerable with the only road exit toward Central Avenue. The City Council has stated that Central is to be reduced from four lanes (two in each direction) to two lanes with a center turning lane. 

This proposal further decreases access to and from McKay Avenue, including during any emergency. Need anyone be reminded of the lessons of the Northern California Paradise fire? That city’s roads had been reduced using the same “road diet” and evacuees died in their cars.

Traffic on and off the Island has become a nightmare. Whether trying to get through the Webster Tube or driving out High Street at 8 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., one sits in  big traffic jams. Such inaccessibility makes it less likely that friends and relatives will visit patients at  the wellness center. They might think it too much of a chore to come and go from Alameda. 

Like all cities in California, Alameda faces pressure from the state and county to construct more housing, including affordable housing. Thus, we have gained much denser housing and more cars and fewer car lanes are planned for our established streets. No one seems to recognize that Alameda is an island, open space is at a premium and it will only become scarcer and more precious due to relentless development. 

Alamedans need to take advantage of every park opportunity now, and for future Alamedans. I will be voting for Open Space on McKay Avenue.

 

Editor’s note: A Measure B victory will not create any open space. It will simply stop the creation of the wellness center. A Measure B victory will leave two options. The federal government will let the property go to seed or, assuming the federal government would sell the property to the city, the taxpayers will pay approximately $11.7 million to turn the property into a city park. These costs include $5.6 million for the city to acquire the property, $3.2 million to demolish the existing buildings and an additional $2.9 million to create a park.