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Cleanup, continued

Submitted by on 1, October 2, 2008 – 7:45 amNo Comment

o we were so focused on the nuclear (nukular?) dirt out at Alameda Point we completely missed this item on the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority agenda about requests to build housing for homeless people on the 42-acre North Housing Parcel, which the Navy has said it intends to surplus.

Basically, federal law requires that surplused military property first be considered for housing and services for the homeless. Which sounds like it would be a great thing – if it didn’t come at such a potentially steep price.

City Council members (who sit as the ARRA board) pointed out what they fear could end up being some costly cleanup issues at the site – costs that could swallow a nonprofit housing provider whole, or leave a bit of a dent in the city Housing Authority, which is one of the parties that put in a proposal for housing on the site.

Apparently, when the Navy did its cleanup of the site, they didn’t even analyze anything under roads or buildings and around trees, let alone clean it up. And its cleanup for the rest of the site only went two feet deep. Anything else found there after, say, a developer or the city starts digging to build foundations, infrastructure and roads, the Navy may not be legally required to clean up.

The council members went round and round with base reuse manager Debbie Potter, looking for a straightforward way to compel the Navy to clean up any additional mess. In fact, the situation seemed so intractable to the council that Councilman Frank Matarrese suggested it might take a lawsuit to set it straight.

Potter said that projects built on once-contaminated land, called brownfields, are increasingly being done because land has become so scarce. And she said developers expect to incur the costs associated with those developments. Potter said nonprofits or city agencies looking to build on the land might be able to get grants to clean it up.

Council members were skeptical. They want more information. They’re slated to talk about this again on December 3.

Meanwhile, in other Point news … sounds like the city is fighting a similar cleanup battle over radioactive dirt in what folks thought was an old landfill site, right on the Bay. The Navy is slated to submit a draft cleanup plan on October 28, and we’ll have more for you then.

Also, a slew of board and commission hearings on SunCal’s preliminary plan for developing the Point will kick off with a hearing of the Historical Advisory Board at 7 p.m. tonight. SunCal’s Pat Keliher told us they’ll be presenting a much more detailed plan on how they’ll manage the Point’s historic buildings. We’ll get back to you on that one Friday.

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