ALAMEDA -- Park and athletic fields once used by the military along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary will be upgraded and transformed into the city's first lighted synthetic sports field and a public park under a proposal that the Planning Board is set to consider.

Known as Estuary Park, the property on Mosely Avenue just east of the former Alameda Naval Air Station totals eight acres and is currently unusable.

Verde Design, a specialist in athletic fields picked for the project by the Alameda Recreation and Park Department, has now come up with a conceptual design for the new park, which the board will review on Monday.

The plan calls for Estuary Park to be split into two equal sites and developed in two phases.

The west side of the new park will have a synthetic baseball diamond that will serve young people with special needs, as well as a lighted synthetic rectangular field for soccer, lacrosse, rugby and football. It will be the city's first lighted synthetic turf field and the city's first regulation-size football field.

The eastern four acres will feature a community park with playgrounds for children under age five and for those between 5 and 12 years, picnic areas, basketball courts, an open lawn and a dog park. It will serve future residents of the neighborhood, including at Alameda Landing near the College of Alameda, according to Amy Wooldridge, the park department's executive director.


Advertisement

The first phase of construction will be the athletic fields and is projected to cost $3.5 million. So far, city officials say they have identified sources for about $2,560,000 of the money, including donations from youth sports organizations and through Measure WW, which Alameda and Contra Costa County voters approved in November 2008 to support the East Bay Regional Park District.

The cost of the second phase, or the community park and restrooms, is estimated to be $1.5 million.

The new Estuary Park is expected to offset the need for sports fields in the city, especially the increased demand that park department officials say they are experiencing for lacrosse and rugby sites.

During last year's fall season, for instance, all field space in Alameda was booked, despite a change in fees.

What also adds to the need for new fields is that currently youth football leagues practice on baseball outfields, which are not designed to handle that level of use and so increase maintenance costs, Wooldridge said in a background report for the board.

The synthetic surface of the baseball diamond will make the field playable for young people in wheelchairs and walkers. It will also include striping in the outfield so that it can be used for soccer matches.

The effort to build the diamond comes as the Alameda Little League is creating a Challenger baseball league, which is an established national program model for athletes between 4 and 18 years who face mental and physical challenges.

The park department also plans to make the synthetic field available for the Special Olympics and other nonprofit organizations that serve people with special needs.

Estuary Park is anticipated to annually serve at least 165,000 Alameda youth, parents and residents.

In February, the City Council earmarked $500,000 toward the rehabilitation of the fields, which were previously used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, and the Recreation and Park Commission recommended the conceptual design to the council in May.

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.

IF YOU GO
The Planning Board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.