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Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board Participant Concerned About Reduction of Community Cleanup Meetings

Carol Gottstein, M.D., of Alameda, is an historical consultant to the Restoration Advisory Board, a joint U.S. Navy and community group overseeing efforts to clean up the former Naval Air Station Alameda, now Alameda Point. She’s concerned that proposals to reduce the frequency of Board meetings may lead to the premature elimination of the oversight body.

At the September board meeting, the Navy representative asked board members to consider meeting less frequently than their current once-per-month schedule, to reduce costs. That same month, the City of Alameda disclosed that the Navy had agreed to transfer the land to the city at no cost, subject to certain limitations.

In the 1970’s, Dr. Gottstein worked in the nuclear chemistry group at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and still holds a radiation safety license. She told Action Alameda News, “the documentation I have doesn’t support what seems to be the prevailing attitude in the community that the base is going to be cleaned-up by conveyance. I see people trying to make it look like the base will be transferred before it actually will be.”

Dr. Gottstein wants to lobby U.S. Secretary for Defense Leon Panetta to ensure that the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) continues to meet. “For our community, it’s important – a dissolved RAB would be impossible to constitute once it’s gone. I’ve suggested that all the board members and agencies continue to meet even if the Navy no longer supports the RAB and doesn’t show up. The public needs to have continued insight into the clean-up of the base.”

The stated mission of the board is, “to encourage and facilitate the participation of the community in the environmental cleanup decision making process.” The board currently meets on the first Thursday of each month at City Hall West, at 950 West Mall Square, Alameda. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Update:

This afternoon, (October 24th), the Navy responded to a prior press inquiry with this statement on behalf of Mr. Derek Robinson, BRAC Environmental Coordinator for the former Naval Air Station (NAS) Alameda.

“There are no plans to eliminate the Alameda RAB meetings and the Navy remains firmly committed to maintaining and enhancing communication with the Alameda community. As operational budgets for all Federal Agencies are under pressure and affected by the current economic climate, the Navy has presented to the RAB a quarterly vs. monthly on-site meeting schedule to better reflect current workload and minimize costs, as appropriate. While we envision a reduction in on-site meetings to reduce travel and production costs, we will continue with other established forms of communication such as, periodic fact sheets, responding to email and phone inquiries from community members, and our annual RAB community tour of the former NAS Alameda. We feel that collectively, these components will ensure optimal information exchange with the RAB and community. Please note these changes are unrelated to the planned no-cost Economic Development Conveyance of property to the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority.”

3 comments to Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board Participant Concerned About Reduction of Community Cleanup Meetings

  • Carol Gottstein, MD

    Corection: I cannot take credit for the suggestion that the RAB & oversight agencies continue to meet in the absence of the Navy. That idea was primarily advanced by our community co-chair, George Humphreys, @ the October RAB Meeting. However, I think it’s safe to say all RAB members in attendance seemed to agree with the idea. Better to go on meeting without the Navy than to stop meeting altogether! However, those minutes would no longer be posted on the BRAC website & our comments would probably not be seriously considered by the Navy as previously. I am concerned that without formal community input, base cleanup might stall; or, in proceeding, not yield as complete a result as planned; further hindering the City’s reuse of the land. Given the usually humongous US defense budget vs the relatively low cost of RAB meetings, continuing to fund this important community input process sems a small price to pay, indeed.

  • Carol Gottstein

    For now, no further RAB meetings seem to be planned though the end of the year. Greater community participation by attendance, especially at the Navy’s annual summer poster board session{usually more poorly attended than a regular RAB meeting} might help restore monthly frequency
    And while I am a RAB community member, I am also a separate Historical Consulting party to the BRAC PMO West. As such I can say that the boundaries of the NAS Alameda Historic District have recently [Oct 2011] been expanded to include elements heretofore excluded; such as Bldg. 5[NARF], the Control Tower, & the entire Seaplane Lagoon with 3 of the 4 Ramps[not an exhaustive list]. This will provide support for the National Register Nomination of the NAS Alameda Historic District. Any questions about the above? email me: carolgottstein@yahoo.com

  • Carol Gottstein

    Sorry: At Seaplane Lagoon:all 4 of the Ramps, the bulkhead & the jetty.

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