We at Community for Lake Merritt think that it is great that the A’s have decided to stay in Oakland, but we have serious concerns along with others over the potential placement of the new stadium on the Peralta property along the Lake Merritt channel. (If you want a good round up of all the concerns about the lake in this neighborhood, look to the East Bay Express series of articles: “Laney or Bust”)
We understand why the owners want to move near the lake. Since 2012 and the passage of Measure DD, the city of Oakland has spent (and is still spending) 198 million dollars and countless person hours on the lake and its environs. And it shows! The opening of the channel is part of these improvements, and is vital to the health of the lake.
The tides that flow up and down that stretch bring the Bay to Oakland, cleanse the lake, and bring birds, bat rays, anchovies, striped bass, and lots of fish and invertebrates. This is an unique feature of Oakland — not many cities have a slough and a wildlife refuge at their heart.
Just the other day, across from where the stadium would sit, I walked the bank and saw a large striped bass in the water, at my feet more or less. I stopped to watch and it swam off languidly, disappearing into the water. How would the stadium construction deal with the channel, what would it stir up, would it be hardscaped? What birds would the stadium attract and what would it deter.
And then the thousands of people will likely bring erosion, and litter. I would love to see more people exploring the channel. Some in the stadium crown would likely enjoy it, but for most it would be a path. Nowadays it is just me, people doing exercise or gardening by Laney, some homeless, and some fishermen. Sundays are a little busier with the swap meet in the Laney parking lot. There’s much more that could be done to make it accessible, keep it beautiful, and connect it to other paths and trails to Jack London and Brooklyn Basin. A stadium might do these things for its own ends.
And to be clear, this not a NIMBY rejection (I personally would take the 2002 Uptown version in my backyard with no issue!), but a desire to protect the potential long term vision of what the lake and its channel could offer to all of Oakland residents.