Plans for a new Major League ballpark here won't dampen the Port of Oakland's commitment to maritime business. That was the word the Port's two top leaders delivered this week to shipping executives nationwide.
"In partnership with you, we've achieved great things at the Port of Oakland," the Port said in a letter sent yesterday and signed by President of the Board of Port Commissioners Ces Butner and Port Executive Director Chris Lytle. "The plan now is to build on our momentum."
The letter to 85 Port tenants and other stakeholders arrived as the Oakland Athletics advanced plans for a 35,000-seat stadium with adjacent housing at the Port's Howard Terminal. The Port said the letter was intended to assure customers that the Port would forge ahead with maritime growth plans. "We remain fully committed to that objective," the Port officials stressed in their letter.
The Board of Port Commissioners this week approved a term sheet for the proposed baseball stadium project. It gives the A's four years to complete an environmental impact report and gain public agency approvals. The Board said it would take a final vote on a proposed stadium only after the A's completed preliminary steps.
The letter to customers said the proposed ballpark project provides an opportunity to enhance the Port's commercial real estate portfolio. Commercial real estate is one of three business lines at the Port of Oakland. The others are the seaport and Oakland International Airport.
The Port's letter addressed shipping industry concerns about a ballpark at one of Oakland's six marine terminals. Questions have arisen over everything from game day traffic to navigational safety on Oakland Estuary where Howard is located.
The Board President and Executive Director said the Port and its governing Board would work to address potential impacts. They added that a number of issues have already been tackled in the term sheet. Among them:
--revisions intended to preserve the Port's ability to enlarge the Inner Harbor Turning Basin for ships on Oakland Estuary;
--a buffer zone area between any proposed residential uses and the adjacent seaport activities; and
--a requirement for the submittal of a comprehensive transportation and circulation plan to the Port.
The letter highlighted an amendment adopted by Commissioners this week prior to approving the ballpark project term sheet. The key language in the amendment read: "The parties shall negotiate measures, designs and operational standards to ensure that the project doesn't impact or interfere with the Port's use or operations outside of the project. The Port will consult seaport and maritime stakeholders regarding such measures."
"We know that our business partners, customers, and tenants have questions about the proposed development project," Mr. Butner and Mr. Lytle said in their letter. "We want to assure you that we understand the issues."