Novato Sports & Community Park, Novato CA

map overview planned sports complex Hamilton


Novato Sports & Community Park, Novato CA

(MSA LLC / RHM LLC Developers with Easement)

(City of Novato Jurisdiction) 



 MORE INFO (and how to get involved)


Sierra Club Marin Group Position Statement

Sierra Club Marin Group is taking the following position on the development of the Hamilton Army Airfield Landfill 26 property and adjacent areas:  

We support non-structural, environmentally responsible public usage and open space use on the site to preserve and protect adjacent wetlands and wildlife. We are opposed to any commercial, structural development on the Landfill 26 property and adjacent areas designated for limited public recreation and open space.


Project Summary   

Please note: We recognize that the most recent application submitted for review to the Novato City Council by the Developer MSA LLC has been withdrawn and a third application from the Developer is expected. The request to the City of Novato for re-zoning of Public Open Space to Parkland has not been withdrawn by the Developer.

A viable proposal for the project has not been accepted by the City, however 13 studies and documents have been processed by the city who is moving ahead and expending staff resources. We have noted in this document that the City has not done any due diligence demonstrating transparency in providing the public with a full alternatives analysis for the use of this site. The original proposal for Landfill 26 Recreational Use presented in the 1999 Hamilton Master Plan was for an environmentally sensitive City of Novato owned low impact pubic park and that was proposed prior to the Hamilton Wetlands Plan and Restoration.

Developer proposes a 55 acre for profit private regional sports complex and stadium on public lands which are classified as a Class II toxic landfill. The proposed development is adjacent to the 980 acre Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project completed in 2014 for endangered species habitat, one of the largest wetland restoration projects in CA costing taxpayers over 280 million. The developers have located their project on this land as the perpetual recreational easement was obtained for $10.00 from the USACE Dept of Real Estate in Washington DC. The landfill parcel is located in an environmentally sensitive FEMA floodplain and historic creek bed which allows toxics to be transported out of the Landfill via groundwater which 3-6 months of the year is at the surface. The proposed development does not comply with the land use restrictions of the Landfill remedy stated to be maintained by the USACE. The Army Easement for recreational use given to the Developer RHM LLC/ MSA LLC absolves the US Army from any responsibly if the remediation fails as a result of this development. The majority of the property will be covered with impervious surfaces including parking for 800 vehicles and 9 fields 8 of which will be turf impacting storm water runoff and 12 buildings on the landfill cap.
The currently proposed 1000 seat Professional Baseball Stadium, with lighting and amplified sound is located within 100 yards of the wetlands and endangered species habitats and geography will amplify stadium noise, lighting, pollution, stormwater runoff and trash directly toward the endangered species wetlands.
A viable proposal for the project has not been accepted by the City, however 13 studies and documents have been processed by the city who is moving ahead and expending staff resources. We have noted in this document that the City has not done any due diligence demonstrating transparency in providing the public with a full alternatives analysis for the use of this site. The original proposal for Landfill 26 Recreational Use presented in the 1999 Hamilton Master Plan was for an environmentally sensitive City of Novato owned low impact pubic park and that was proposed prior to the Hamilton Wetlands Plan and Restoration.
This does not address the social justice issues relating to the facts that this is a private for profit commercial venture and not a city owned, low impact, public community park that was envisioned by the City of Novato and local residents 20 years ago. This is a private facility on public lands which would cost the city and all taxpayers for public services. The fact that alcohol will be sold next to youth recreational fields and the for profit nature of the facility with developer control was stated in the Novato and Hamilton Master Plan (October 15, 1998)
SCMG Position 
We Oppose
• We oppose any commercial development of the 55-acre Landfill 26 parcel owned by the US Army regardless of project size or repackaging, given the immediate proximity to the Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project and endangered species habitat for 38 protected and listed species. The location of any private commercial development project in an environmentally sensitive flood plain, bordering wetlands, wildlife refuges, critical upland habitats and wildlife corridors is not feasible to “mitigate” and will negatively impact the HWRP stated goals as authorized by Congress. (WRDA 1999, 2007/ 2014) 
• We oppose any filling of the adjacent landfill buffer areas which are wetlands themselves to expand the buildable site area, the creation of new access roads requiring bridges and filling of the existing wetlands surrounding the site, floodplain and riparian corridor. The wildlife buffer of 300 ft along the west and north sides of the Landfill has been designated as such by both the Landfill Closure & Maintenance Plan (June 2011) and the Hamilton Wetlands- (HWRP /EIR 1998) and should be expanded to a width of 400 feet not reduced.
• We oppose any staged approach to the commercial development of the Landfill 26 site where the Developer will come in with a small non-viable project to gain approvals and then blackmail the City for approvals to expand, add lighting, stadium seats, liquor, parking etc. as was done at Albert Park in San Rafael when the facility cannot be sustainable. For the record what has been proposed to date is the largest FOR PROFIT Commercial Sports Complex in Northern CA.
• We oppose re-zoning of adjacent lands and drainage basins in the Hamilton and Novato Master Plan currently designated as Open Space to be changed to Parkland as requested of the City by the Developer to accommodate plans for fill, roads, buildings and paved parking areas adjacent to the wetlands. This issue will be put before the Novato Planning Commission and City Council. Filling these wetlands will impact the landfill toxics containment remediation in a flood zone mandated by the USACE and places liability for environmental damage on the Developer RHM LLC (Limited Liability Corporation)/ MSA LLC as per current Easement Agreement dated March 2012. These areas the Developer has requested rezoning are designated as Wildlife Buffer Zones and Drainage Buffer Zones in all Landfill 26 Closure and Wetlands Project Plan documentation.
• We oppose the initial execution of the Recreational Easement March 2012 agreement with the USACE which states that the Developer will be held solely responsible for any corrective actions and costs necessary to restore the Landfill 26 remedy and bring the Landfill to environmental compliance. This is not protective of the public or environmental health and safety. This document contradicts what the public has been told since  BRAC -Base Closure 1988 which is that the Army is responsible for the toxic contamination on this and other sites and environmental remediation in perpetuity. If the Army/ USACE allows commercial development on the site, then it stands to reason that the Army should remain responsible. This attempts to put unnecessary liability on the citizens of  Novato & Marin. The US Army should be held accountable for any and all development they allow on the landfill in perpetuity.

 We Request
• We request that the entire 55-acre Landfill 26 parcel and surrounding buffer zone be designated permanently as Open Space and not developed or re-zoned to Parkland to protect both public health and the environment. No building of any structures, filling or weight bearing is permitted per the Land Use Restrictions of the Landfill 26 (ASACE 1999) and should be upheld.
• We request that the City of Novato look at responsible development of the site balancing public and environmental goals. The City should not present a one sided approach to development of this sensitive parcel and they must explore alternatives with less harmful impacts to the environment, while potentially enhancing the use of open space for use by all of the public at large. We believe this can be done and with minimal or low maintenance to the City. 
• We request that the Secretary of the US Army extinguish the Recreational Easement Agreement with Commercial Developer RHM LLC immediately following written notice of 30 days to the Grantee (Developer) as listed in Item 11. Extinguishment - Easement For Recreational Uses Over Landfill 26 Agreement, US Army Corp of Engineers. 
There was insufficient public notice, public process or transparency involved in the execution of this easement opportunity for public lands and this appears to be a completely private negotiation between Washington insiders. In addition the abdication of responsibility for the property, toxic contamination and potential environmental safety by the US Army to a “limited liability corporation developer” leaves no responsible party to rectify an environmental failure of the landfill remediation resulting from the developers project. This agreement is not protective of public safety or the environment. This agreement and potential liability to the local residents of Novato represents poses an unnecessary risk to the public and the environment. (Original estimates in 1992 were over 137 million for the complete Landfill 26 remediation and encapsulation remedy.)
• We request that if a Commercial Regional Sports Complex is necessary for the City of Novato (see references from Davis CA) residents then the City should identify a site in Novato that is more appropriate for a large regional sports complex development and associated traffic congestion that will not result in significant impacts to the environment, public health and quality of life.
We Are Committed 
We are committed to the continued wetlands restoration expansion at Hamilton and BMK V properties and support the adjacent wetlands restoration of 1,600 acres on California Coastal Conservancy property. However we insist that the newly created restored wetlands, open space and endangered species habitats be protected for the 55 special status and endangered species it was created to preserve.

Project Overview and Background

(Sample Issues From the Last Application Submitted March 2015 )
Hamilton Fields Sports Complex and Stadium 
• Commercial / Private business 55 acre sports complex 
• Developer’s are 2 LLC’s  (RHM LLC and MSA LLC)
• On public lands which must be owned by US Army, but NOT a public facility with public access
• Current plan includes a 1000 seat stadium w/amplified sound and lighting adjacent to wetlands submitted 3/2015
• 9 fields for baseball, soccer, football, volleyball under private control 
(original Developer plan submitted in 2012 called for 78  acres, 13 fields and a hotel)
• 12 additional buildings on the Landfill and a 40,000 sq ft indoor training facility
• Additional dog park, rock climbing walls, beach volleyball court
• Sales of food and alcohol on site
• Expected over 3,800 visitors per day; majority of them NON-local 
• Traffic study estimated over 400,000 non-local visitors per year
• Open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm or later
• 770 hardscape or gravel parking spaces next to wetlands and/or creek
• 550 paved parking spaces directly adjacent to the Wetland
• Adjacent to (300 ft) from 300 million dollar Hamilton Wetlands Project
Wetlands habitat exists up to the landfill cap
• Storm water runoff from Landfill 26 currently being pumped directly into Hamilton Wetlands.  This surface water quality is unknown, last tested for 3 out of 39 known contaminants in 2010.
• Landfill 26 is an unlined RCRA capped landfill which had 39 significant toxics identified at closure. The method of remediation was not protective of public health and the environment as it was built on historic creek channels that have been shown to transport toxic contamination, benzene and methane.
• Adjacent and nearby residential communities of Hamilton Communities, Bel Marin Keys, Los Robles, Pacheco Valley and Ignacio, and waters of the State including Pacheco Pond and Creek, Novato Creek, and San Pablo Bay will be potentially impacted.
Environmental Impacts
• City and developer initially selected a mitigated negative declaration for the proposed project roadway across wetlands and Pacheco Creek. This is prior to an accepted project proposal by the City. ( City of Novato Website)
• City requests public to “wait and see” until the EIR on the project is produced
• Project will negatively impact all wildlife and endangered species in the area, including Hamilton Wetland Restoration Project and Pacheco Pond a wildlife refuge
• Noise pollution 12 or more hours a day
• Massive light pollution during night, impacting nocturnal wildlife
• Oil, gasoline, heavy metals and lubricants leaking from 770 parking spaces and automotive traffic
• Toxic run off into the Pacheco Creek, Pacheco Pond Wildlife Refuge, Hamilton Wetlands and high groundwater table on site (surface level) has occurred since the landfills inception
• Landfill toxics were covered in place (capped) in an unlined environmentally sensitive floodway. Toxics including Pesticides, Vinyl Chloride and 39 chemical compounds were detected by the Regional Board in 1989. These have not removed or contained and refuse was not immobilized. The RWQCB has stated that landfill refuse is saturated by underlying groundwater. 
• Site-wide trash blown and run off into protected wildlife areas (Collect 4-8 tons per year)
• Significant water use  and infrastructure for fields, water attractions, toilets and public
• Significant wastewater generation and disposal issues.
• Elimination of wildlife corridors: bisecting existing access. Removes all screening and wildlife protection. Removes aquatic species transport corridors. (Possible red legged frog habitat- sighting noted in 1998)
• Major site changes to flood plain, drainage, hydrology, and storm water impacts
Endangered Species Impacts
• Federally Endangered Species at Hamilton Wetlands - 2 federally listed endangered species and 38 special status species are known or have habitat in the adjacent Wetlands Restoration Project and Wildlife Refuge.
o The California Clapper Rail has a breeding season from Feb -August and they are sensitive to noise and light year around. 
o The Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse another local endangered species is nocturnal and breeds in the spring to fall. 
o Project is also located adjacent to Pacheco Pond Wildlife Refuge, which is a major stop for thousands of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway during Fall- Spring and is breeding and nesting habitat for many native wildlife and waterfowl. This refuge is protected by ordinances of both Marin County & City of Novato and CA Fish and Wildlife regulations.
Stadium Site / Hazardous Waste Landfill 26
• “A lighted Stadium with grass fields and loudspeaker amplified sound will include a snack bar and restrooms directly adjacent to the wetlands occupying the 5 acres on the Northeast sector of the Landfill.” 
• A commercial Sports Complex was not included in the Novato General Plan or Hamilton Master Plan.
• Master Plan (October 15, 1998) also stated that no lights would be allowed on the landfill soil cap.
• No cumulative impacts from other contamination plumes (MTBE/ Benzene) under the Landfill have been addressed in addition to known toxics.
• Landfill 26 – a class II hazardous waste landfill.
o No weight bearing structures on landfill
o Landfill cap cannot be breeched
o Methane generating landfill - venting system  to remain in place
o Methane and toxics distribution underground through aquifers and historic creek channels
o Benzene contamination migration from Navy gas station site.
Major Development Issues
• Commercial development, NOT a community facility.
• Public access controlled by developer, not City controlled.
• Requesting change of land use designation on and surrounding Landfill 26 
• Currently Open Space – NO buildings or “Improvements” 
• Wants designation of Park Land to allow building of roads, bridges and buildings. 
• Fast Track: developer could lose Federal easement unless project breaks ground before July 2017 termination of agreement is possible after this by Secretary of the Army.
• Developer & Novato waiting for EIR to determine environmental impacts.
• City Of Novato’s Hamilton Master Plan also mandated a 300 ft buffer of open space around Ammo Hill. And a 300 ft wildlife corridor between Ammo Hill and Reservoir (POL) Hill.
• Not in compliance with Marin Countywide Plan uses relative to Sea Level Rise, Baylands Corridor.
Community Quality of Life Impacts
• Traffic – 400,000 estimated cars from outside Novato annually.
• Noise- PA systems directed at homes within 150 feet and wetlands within 100 feet.
• Air pollution – topography is a bowl, concentrating air and pollution.
• Trash – Every year 8 tons of trash is removed from this area of the watershed. With an expected 3,800 visitors daily this would increase exponentially.
Current Status: 
To date the developer (MSA LLC) has submitted 2 designs for review and 13 documents and reports located at and
The City staff has stated that environmental concerns will be addressed in the EIR/ CEQA review process. The City has included the Hamilton Fields project in the Revision of the City Master Plan Update. The request to the City staff for rezoning has not been withdrawn.
For more information, contact:
Sue Lattanzio, SCMG Board  suelattanzio at |  415-710-4787
Hamilton Wetlands
Developments on Landfills
Highlights the high cost of maintaining a landfill park when the LLC goes belly up and 
who is responsible? Actual cost to do development over landfills very high.
Davis CA- Similar Issues
Landfill 26 Hamilton Army Airfield, Novato CA